Democratic State Supreme Court Chief Justice Candidate Bob Vance

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Alabama isn’t much of a factor in the presidential election, but the race for state Supreme Court Chief Justice is shaping up to be an intriguing contest. Republicans nominated Roy Moore, who was ousted from the chief justice position a decade ago when he refused to remove a 10 commandments monument from the Alabama judicial building.

Democrats disqualified the winner of their primary after he publicly advocated hanging illegal immigrants and accused Moore of devil worship on Facebook. Two months ago Democrats put Bob Vance on the ballot. He’s a Jefferson County circuit court judge and the son of a federal judge who was killed by a mail bomb in 1989. Vance tells WBHM’s Andrew Yeager he wasn’t looking for a new job.

UPDATE (10/30): Ten current and former justices of the Alabama Supreme Court, including three republicans, endorsed Bob Vance on Tuesday.

Interview Highlights

On running as a Democrat in a solidly Republican state:

“I don’t see that as an insurmountable challenge. The information we have, we’ve conducted polling and that shows that people are willing to crossover and vote in this race. On an anecdotal basis I’ve had so many Republicans come up to me and say, ‘Thank you. Thank you for running.’ I think there are a good number of Republicans who are uncomfortable with my opponent and who are very comfortable with who I am and will be crossing over to vote for me on Election Day.”

On leading the state court system when budgets are tight:

“The chief justice has to work with the people in the courts to wring out whatever efficiencies we can. To make the court system more and more efficient. That may be an increase use of technology. Working together. Sharing the workload. Using imagination. We will have to think outside the box.”

On finding effective judicial programs:

“We’ve had a great program here in Jefferson County. We call it drug court. Instead of just throwing people in prison for drug abuse, why don’t we actually focus on trying to help people kick their habits? So we’ve had this program in place that divert people out of what you might call a conventional justice process into a program where a judge monitors efforts to try to get people to kick their habits. And it’s been a successful program…We need to focus on those kinds programs because they really address the problems. Try to solve the problems. And in doing so, ultimately save the state money.”

Andrew Yeager

Andrew Yeager