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Judicial races crowded with more than 100 candidates

Judicial candidates, family, friends, colleagues and at least one campaign manager huddled around a row of monitors inside the Clark County Government Center as the clock crept toward 5 p.m. on Friday.

A total of 136 candidates entered the fray for 32 District Court departments, 26 Family Court races, along with five openings in Las Vegas, Henderson or North Las Vegas justice courts on the 2020 ballot. At least 12 District Court, 11 Family Court and two Justice Court seats were uncontested.

“It went really smooth here,” said Joe Gloria, the county registrar after shutting the door to the Pueblo Room.

Among familiar names and first-time candidates, the ballot garnered two Villanis, a couple of Almases, a pair of Johnsons, and double Joneses in county-wide races. Meanwhile, David Scott Gibson Sr. was unopposed in Henderson Justice Court, and David Scott Gibson Jr. was unopposed in Family Court.

Each job carries a six-year term. At least 66 judicial seats will appear on this year’s ballot. The primary election is set for June 9.

“Notorious and Victorious,” the younger Gibson posted on Facebook above a photo of himself wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with “The Notorious D.S.G.” in white. “It looks like I’m unopposed. I appreciate the vote of confidence.”

While several judges are expected to retire or step down from the bench, District Judge Kerry Earley withdrew her name from the ballot in the middle of the filing period.

With less than an hour before the filing deadline, attorney Anna Albertson approached campaign manager Tom Letizia about the move she had just made to challenge incumbent District Judge Michael Villani, rather than run in a four-way Family Court race.

“I think you made a mistake,” Letizia told Albertson. “I know we’re going to raise a ton of money, and it’s going to be difficult.”

Letizia said he represents 21 potential judges.

“My candidates are all on pins and needles right now,” he said.

With minutes to go before the deadline, one perennial candidate, Bruce Gale, shifted from one District Court race to another. As the doors closed to others, Jacob Villani, a veteran prosecutor, slipped into the slot Gale vacated in the campaign for retiring Judge Kenneth Cory’s seat. Villani ended up in a three-way race with Bita “Marie” Yeager and Steve Smith.

Clark County voters also will select judges in three state-wide races. Supreme Court Justice Kristina Pickering drew two opponents: Thomas Frank Christensen and Esther C. Rodriguez. Ozzie Fumo, Douglas Herndon and Erven Nelson are vying for Mark Gibbon’s soon-to-be open seat on the high court, while Susan Bush decided on Friday to challenge Nevada Court of Appeals Judge Bonnie Bulla.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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