(Posted April 24) Among all aspirants in open (non-incumbent) races for various Michigan judgeships this year, two get the top prize — John Economopoulos of Escanaba, an attorney in private practice, and Macomb Co. Probate Judge Carl Marlinga.
How so? Well, each is running UNOPPOSED for a full six-year term on a Circuit Court with no incumbent and no competition in sight. That’s unusual, to say the least. Usually, there are multiple candidates whenever a seat opens up for any court in Michigan — be it appeals, circuit, district or probate. The best example this year is the 16 candidates running for four open (non-incumbent) seats on Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit bench.
Both Economopoulos and Marlinga have suffered some recent reversals in their attempts to get elected. Econompoulos lost a race for a Delta Co. district judgeship two years ago, although he was one of the two general election finalists. But now a sitting Delta Co. circuit judge is retiring, and Economopoulos finds himself unchallenged in his bid to succeed the incumbent.
Marlinga had early success as a five-times elected Macomb Co. prosecuting attorney, but then he lost a challenge to U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Twp) and wound up having to beat criminal charges a couple of years later. After several years in private practice, Marlinga rebounded to get elected to a Macomb Co. probate judgeship in 2012 and now, with a new, open seat on the circuit bench in the offing, he’s drawn no opponents.
Barring write-ins, which won’t happen, color this duo “elected.” In judicial electoral politics, even with a setback or two it pays to keep on keepin’ on.