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Stealth election

ENDORSEMENTS 2008: A racial separatist running for judge could win if voters don't pay attention.

May 05, 2008

Voters aren't showing much excitement over the June 3 election, apart from a race to replace Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke in Los Angeles County's 2nd District. Turnout is expected to be light. Many who do vote will do so by mail, beginning today. It is a stealth election, providing an opportunity to a dangerous candidate with a small but dedicated following of people who make it a point to vote when others don't bother.

That's especially true in the races for Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Little is known to voters about judicial candidates except for their names, their three-word ballot designations and the slate mailers that, for a price, show their photos and list their qualifications. Two years ago, voters relying on such information ousted accomplished jurist Dzintra Janavs and replaced her with Lynn Diane Olson, the owner of a bagel bakery who had not actively practiced law for a decade; political observers speculated that voters simply preferred the sound of Olson's name.

It was a bad choice, but Olson was simply underqualified. This year it's more serious. Los Angeles voters, if they don't pay attention, could hand judicial robes to a racial separatist who called for restricting U.S. citizenship to persons "of the European race" and deporting blacks, Asians, Latinos and others who don't meet his racial criteria.

The candidate is Bill Johnson. Under the name James O. Pace, he wrote the racial exclusion as a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a 1985 book supporting it. Under the name Daniel Johnson, he ran a losing race for Congress in Wyoming in 1989 with a Ku Klux Klan organizer as his campaign manager. As William Johnson, he ran a losing race for Congress in Arizona in 2006. He now may have found a race he can win, unless voters here find out who he is.

The Times on April 21 endorsed Johnson's opponent, Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner James Bianco, because Bianco is experienced and impressive and because Johnson was secretive about his past and about his role in a questionable campaign to remove six Latino judges from the court. Now the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, a newspaper that reports on courts and the legal community, has put together the rest of the pieces on Johnson.

Johnson has been active in the Ron Paul for president campaign (he says his views on race now are identical to Paul's) and is relying on Paul supporters to rally for him. They just might do it, making it more important than ever for voters to act -- and to choose Bianco.

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