COLUMBUS - Republican Judge Judith Lanzinger, who was elected in November, 2002, to a Toledo-based state appeals court, is among the contenders to run for the Ohio Supreme Court next year.
Judge Lanzinger was interviewed yesterday by an Ohio Republican Party panel that is evaluating candidates, party spokesman Jason Mauk said.
Two Republicans - Chief Justice Thomas Moyer and Paul Pfeifer - are running for re-election next year. A third Republican, Terrence O'Donnell, was appointed to the high court this year by Gov. Bob Taft and will be on the ballot in 2004.
Because of his age, Justice Francis Sweeney is barred from running for re-election next year, and Judge Lanzinger is among several potential candidates seeking the GOP nomination for that seat.
Other Republicans being interviewed for the slot are Kathleen Sutula of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court; state appeals court Judges Diane Grendell of the Warren-based 11th District, Mary DeGenaro of the Youngstown-based 7th District, and Stephen Powell of the Middletown-based 12th District; and Judge Sara Lioi of Stark County Common Pleas Court.
Last year, Judge Lanzinger defeated Democrat Charles Wittenberg to win a seat on the 6th District Court of Appeals. It hears appeals from decisions made in lower state courts in Lucas, Erie, Fulton, Huron, Ottawa, Sandusky, Williams, and Wood counties.
She was a Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge for 14 years and was on the Toledo Municipal Court bench for three years.
The panel interviewing candidates will make its recommendation to the state Republican Party's central and executive committee. A decision on who will run for the open seat is expected on Sept. 26, Mr. Mauk said.
The GOP outnumbers Democrats on the high court by a 5-2 margin, but Justice Pfeifer often votes with labor unions and trial lawyers, so business interests view the ideological control of the court as 4-3.
- JAMES DREW