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Ballinger hangs onto judge’s seat

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at 1:37 a.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, at 6:52 a.m.

Incumbent Democratic Judge Richard Ballinger held off Republican challenger Zoe Newton to keep his seat on the Sedgwick County District Court.

Although several Sedgwick County judgeships were decided in the Aug. 7 Republican primary, the Division 13 race was the only one in which a Democrat and Republican squared off in the general election.

Ballinger had 51 percent to Newton’s 48 percent.

During the campaign, Ballinger pointed to his 20 years of experience as a judge and eight years as a prosecutor. Newton who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and attended Cornell Law School, listed integrity and real world experience among her key assets.

The biggest controversy in the campaign centered on a series of anti-Ballinger radio ads that were paid for by a Georgia political action committee financed by Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Newton’s employer. She is vice president and general counsel for the Hartman Cos.

The ads criticized Ballinger for a 2006 incident in which an ethics panel admonished him for failing to intervene when another judge pursued an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate court employee. A subsequent Ballinger ad criticized Newton supporters for trying to use an out-of-state PAC to influence a local election.

Ballenger’s ads also noted the scores that he and Newton received in a recent survey of local attorneys by the Wichita Bar Association and The Eagle. More than 85 percent of the Ballinger responses were positive, compared with less than 33 percent for Newton.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com.

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