Supreme Court challenger leads in poll, runs from camera

SEATTLE — Steven Gonzalez was sworn in as the first Latino justice of the Washington state Supreme Court in 2012.

Now he faces his first re-election battle.

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Challenger Nathan Choi has never been a judge at any level, but an early poll from May showed Choi leading Gonzalez 16 percent to 10 percent, while 74 percent were undecided. The Northwest Progressive Institute, which commissioned the poll, doubts the numbers have changed much because the Supreme Court race has received relatively little attention.

Gonzalez supporters worry Choi's name alone may be attracting votes from people who want to see more Asians on the bench.

"I'm hopeful that people will inform themselves and cast informed votes. Not choose a name that they think sounds better or flip a coin or anything like that," Gonzalez said in an interview with KIRO-7.

Gonzalez said he's participated in forums with Choi.

"The differences are I talk about Washington state and the Washington law, and he talks about conspiracy theories."

Conspiracy theories like the "deep state" are visible on Choi's website.

Choi agreed to meet us for an interview at KIRO-7, then refused to take questions unless we broadcast his words live, for fear, he said, that we would "spin" his words.

"I will say a lot of things live, anything you want to know," Choi said while running away from the KIRO-7 camera.

It took multiple phone calls to persuade Choi to meet for an on-camera interview. He was never promised that the interview would be broadcast live.

Gonzalez is hopeful voters will take the time to make an informed choice.

"I've been rated by 11 bar associations (a)s exceptionally well-qualified. My opponent refuses to be rated. I'm hopeful that enough people will pay attention and vote on character (and) preparedness and not on something else."