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Our primary election here in Alabama is next Tuesday (March 13), but for a Democrat interested in court races, there isn't much reason to go to the polls.

Eleven seats are up for grabs on Alabama's three appellate courts (criminal appeals, civil appeals, supreme court), and exactly one Democrat is running. That's not one Democrat in each race; that's one Democrat TOTAL.

How pathetic is that?

Here is something even more alarming: Alabama is not the only state where Democrats have more or less given up on court races.

A recent article about Alabama court races quoted Charles Hall, a spokesman for Justice at Stake, a D.C.-based nonprofit that monitors spending on judicial races. From the article:

While campaign spending tends to be lower on primaries, (Hall) noted that Alabama Democrats have no contested appellate court primaries and will offer only one high court candidate in November.

Hall said that the significant donors who once kept Democratic candidates competitive in statewide judicial elections have most likely become discouraged. He said Ohio has seen a similar pattern.

“I think it’s really evidence that the Democrats and some of the trial lawyers and unions that have given heavily in the past simply are retreating from the field,” he said. “The Democrats have spent million of dollars over the past decade and have nothing to show for it in the appellate courts in Alabama.”

So Democrats pretty much have packed it in on court races in Alabama and Ohio. Is that the case in other states?

What does this mean for our democracy? As a resident of Alabama, I know it isn't good. In 2007, our GOP-dominated supreme court overturned most of a $3.6-billion fraud verdict against oil giant ExxonMobil. How might that award have helped our state, especially in the Great Bush Recession? We will never know.

But we do know this: Democrats have not been able to take advantage of such blatantly pro-business rulings by conservative judges. Now it seems they aren't even trying anymore

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