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Originally published Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 4:26 PM

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The Times recommends: Gonzalez and Owens for state Supreme Court

The Seattle Times editorial board endorses Steve Gonzalez and Susan Owens for Washington Supreme Court.

Seattle Times Editorial

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INCUMBENT justices Steve Gonzalez and Susan Owens should be re-elected to the Washington Supreme Court.

Gonzalez is new on the court. He was appointed in January by Gov. Chris Gregoire to replace Justice Gerry Alexander, who had reached the mandatory retirement age, 75. Gonzalez had been a judge on King County Superior Court for 10 years, and is rated highly by several bar associations.

Gonzalez's big ruling has been whether Initiative 1183 to privatize liquor should be allowed to stand. We thought this was a case over quibbles and are happy that Gonzalez agreed with us. The lawsuit claimed I-1183 used the word "tax" when it should have said "fee," and that it wrongly contained two unrelated subjects, liquor and taxes.

Gonzalez wrote a common-sense ruling that liquor and taxes have been related for a long time, and that whether a thing is called a "tax" or a "fee" is not as important as whether it is described clearly to voters, which it was.

The ruling came out May 31, the day before private sales began, and on the tax issue was 5-to-4. If it had gone the other way, the result would have been chaos — and a disenfranchised electorate.

Owens was one of four others who signed on to Gonzalez's opinion in the liquor case. In her 12 years on the Washington Supreme Court, she has ruled in cases in which we agreed and ones in which we disagreed. Like Gonzalez, she has deep support in the legal community.

Owens has two challengers: Douglas McQuaid, a sole practitioner in Seattle, and Scott Stafne, who has a law office in Arlington. Neither has been attending candidate interviews and, the last we checked, neither had raised a nickel, which says something about how seriously they take a statewide campaign for the high court. Owens has raised $41,525.

Gonzalez's challenger is Bruce Danielson of Kitsap County, who ran for judge in 2006 and 2008 and prosecutor in 2010, and lost all three times. He filed for the Washington Supreme Court at the last minute and, last we checked, he had not raised any money either. Gonzalez has raised $215,880.

Gonzalez's race will be settled in the primary and Owens' will, too, if she gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Both are serious candidates, but voters would be better served if they also had serious opponents.

The Times previously recommended King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer for the Supreme Court Position 9: seati.ms/MFbzWO

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