Gov. Mark Dayton now has a narrowed-down list of candidates for his first pick on the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the names include at least one well-known DFL attorney.
On Friday it was announced that longtime DFL attorney and former U.S. Senate candidate David Lillehaug and three judges are in consideration for the post, which is being vacated by retiring Associate Justice Helen Meyer. Her last day is Aug. 10.
Lillehaug stands out as the most political pick of the bunch, having served as one of the chief attorneys on Dayton’s recount team (not to mention Sen. Al Franken’s recount legal team in 2008) and his counsel during the 2011 government shutdown. He’s currently an officer and shareholder with Minneapolis firm Fredrikson & Byron. In 2000, Lillehaug ran for the DFL endorsement for U.S. Senate, but lost to Iron Ranger Jerry Janezich. Janezich went on to lose to Dayton in a primary election. Lillehaug also spent time as the federal government’s chief prosecutor in the state.
Judge Wilhelmina Wright is also in the mix, notable for her recent work as the chief judge leading the 2012 redistricting effort. She was appointed to her judgeship by former Gov. Jesse Ventura and was considered for a Supreme Court spot by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. She currently serves as an at-large judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The two lesser-known judges in political circles are Judge Tanya Bransford, who serves as district court judge within Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District, where she has been since 1994, and Judge Margaret Chutich, who is also an at-large judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Chutich was previously the assistant dean of the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Dayton will announce his pick after he completes the interview process.