Less than one year ago, Judge Terrence Walters was aggressively seeking re-election for a six-year term in Wabasha County. A candidate filing for this office is making a commitment to the voters for six years. Last November, the voters elected Walters to another term by a narrow margin.
So why would Walters, less than 10 months into his six-year term announce his retirement? Here is Walter's motivation.
Article VI of the State Constitution allows the Governor to appoint a successor to Walters's seat when he retires: Sec. 8. VACANCY. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of judge the governor shall appoint in the manner provided by law a qualified person to fill the vacancy until a successor is elected and qualified. The successor shall be elected for a six year term at the next general election occurring more than one year after the appointment.
Walter's calculated plan to retire in March ensures his Democrat appointed successor will serve a full six-year term before having to stand for election. When Dayton's appointee does finally stand for election, he/she will be a six-year incumbent. Incumbents hold a much greater probability of re-election. Lastly, Walter's needs to get this done before a Republican governor is elected.
If you are thinking that judicial elections or appointments are not partisan, consider researching this topic a bit deeper. All too often judges are not appointed based on their adherence to the Rule of Law, but rather political affiliation.