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Among Tuesday's Losers: Judicial Diversity

Apr. 7, 2021 9:30p

(WGTD)---The defeat of two minority candidates in separate judicial races in Kenosha County Tuesday means there won’t be any persons of color on the bench in circuit courts in either Kenosha, Racine or Walworth counties anytime soon.

Angela Cunningham, who is Black, was handily beaten by Deputy District Attorney Angelina Gabriel, while Larisa Benitez-Morgan narrowly lost to Gerad Dougvillo. When asked whether she planned to pursue a recount, Benitez-Morgan said she was waiting for the results to be certified.

Judicial diversity was not an outwardly big issue in the race.

A University of Chicago professor who has extensively studied the issue says it’s important nonetheless. Steven Durlauf says for one thing having minority judges brings different perspectives and life experiences to the fore. For another, minority residents may not feel truly represented by all-white casts of judges. "None of that is to say there ought to be quotas for representation but it is a statement that it matters who the leadership is in any political organization, be it the executive, the legislative or the judicial," Durlauf said in a phone interview. "I think that the absence of any diversity has implications for the sense in which one has substantive representation," he said. 

Benitez-Morgan, who’s Hispanic, lost her race while actually serving as a sitting judge. She was appointed to fill a vacancy by Gov. Evers last year, but presumably fell short Tuesday in her bid for a full term.