Four Maricopa Judges With Hispanic-Sounding Last Names in Bottom Six for Vote Getters -- Looks Like Evidence of Racism

Out of 43 Maricopa County Superior Court judges, four have last names that sound Hispanic.

It doesn't seem like a coincidence that those four happen to have ended up among the six worst vote-getters in last night's election.

Scanning over the vote counts today, it looks like Maricopa County residents -- voting in secret in ballot booths or at home -- showed a discriminatory side they may or may not show in public.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the four judges and the percentage of "no" votes they've received so far are:

* Jose Padilla -- 44.75 * Lisa Daniel Flores -- 40.98 * Connie Contes -- 39.58 * Jeanne Marie Garcia -- 38.09

Though he safely made retention, Padilla had the most "no" votes of all 43 judges.

Padilla was followed by John Hannah as the two worst vote-getters. Hannah had 43.89 percent of "no" votes.

Judge Thomas LeClair also landed in the bottom six with 39.89 percent "no" votes. Perhaps the bigots checking "no" on all the Hispanic names thought "LeClair" sounded too foreign, too -- maybe even French.

It's not even like politics would explain everything. Contes was appointed by former Republican Governor Jane Hull, for example, though it's true the other three Hispanic-ish-named judges were appointed by former Democratic Governor Jan Napolitano.

Some conservatives seem to like a few of the Napolitano appointees, judging by a voters' guide to the judges published by the conservative blog site, Sonoran Alliance a couple of weeks ago. Sonoran Alliance suggested voting for none of the apparently Hispanic judges (Flores isn't actually Hispanic -- that's her married name) but encouraged voters to select LeClaire, a Governor Jan Brewer appointee. So again, politics doesn't entirely explain the bad results for the Spanish-sounding judges.

Racism and bigotry would explain the situation. Thousands of Maricopa County voters apparently have a system when looking at the names of all those judges they've never heard of -- vote against the "Mexican."

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.