Gary Kreep appears about to make history. Just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court denied him a hearing on his birth certificate case against President Barack Obama, it looks like the conservative constitutional attorney will land a seat on the Superior Court bench in San Diego County.
Voters countywide have given him a lead of 1,569 votes over highly endorsed longtime Deputy District Attorney Garland Peed, with 1,000 ballots countywide still to be counted. This is a lead of less than 1 percent.
Peed was endorsed by many of the Superior Court judges and had been given a high qualification ranking by the San Diego County Bar Association. The Bar Association gave Kreep a low ranking, noting that his opinions were swayed too much by his religious beliefs. Kreep heads up the U.S. Justice Foundation, a conservative political group based in Ramona, which has nationwide support.
"I feel very blessed by God," he told Patch Wednesday. "There's been no one else who has taken on the San Diego political and legal establishment and won a judge's seat. But I feel saddened that Jim Sills, the man who advised me on this campaign died the Friday after the election of a heart attack. A lot of people in this county owe their offices to Jim."
Patch will follow up with an indepth interview with Kreep.
Peed told Patch on Wednesday, "I have moved on from the judicial race and I am focusing on my work at the DA's Office. I will leave commentary on the outcome to the experts on San Diego County politics. I wish Mr. Kreep well on the Bench."
One longtime San Diego political consultant told Patch that Kreep's win indicates voters' lack of knowledge about the candidates.
"This is reflective of how very little attention is paid to these judge votes," said Tom Shepard on Monday. Shepard has consulted for the San Diego mayoral campaigns of Nathan Fletcher, Jerry Sanders, Susan Golding and Roger Hedgecock, going back to the 1980s.
"Some people argue that electing judges is not the way to go because there's not enough information about them out there, but that's our system," he said. "The outcomes are often determined by random things. Kreep bought many statewide slate mailers put out by various organizations, which is a fairly inexpensive way to get one's name out there. This is a countywide vote, so it can be prohibitively expensive to get your name out."
Shepard said that usually the support of the local bar association and law enforcement is enough to carry a candidate.
Kreep is one of a few attorneys who have taken Obama eligibility cases to the U.S. Supreme Court; all have been denied a hearing. His case against Obama was originally rejected by the U.S. District Court in San Diego, on the basis that the court did not hold jurisdiction to hear such a case. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena denied his appeal to have it revisited. He then filed it with the U.S. Supreme Court. Kreep told Patch in May 2011 that his case was the only one to make it as far as oral arguments in an appeals court at the time.
The hair's breadth of a margin of votes in Kreep's apparent Superior Court election begs the question of whether his opponents might request a recount. Any voter can request a recount, but they have to pay for it, Registrar of Voters Deborah Seiler told Patch on Monday.
"This was a countywide vote, so it would cost tens of thousands to recount all the ballots," she said.
One North County conservative who has known Kreep since their college days in San Diego told Patch that the results are "great news."
"I support him overall because of his conservative stance," said Calvin Lew, who works in the information technology field. "Most California judges are very liberal. They're not constitutionalists; they're activist judges."
Lew said he didn't think Kreep's birth certificate case was very significant in the big picture, and he wasn't bothered by the bar association's low ranking of Kreep.
"I don't know what his religious beliefs are," he said. "I'm on his email list but I'm busy. I don't follow him that closely."
New judges in San Diego county are usually given procedural duties such as arraignments, traffic and misdemeanor cases, to learn the system while working out of a variety of local courthouses, Superior Court spokeswoman Karen Dalton told Patch.
All countywide primary election results are still unofficial. Official results will be certified by the Registrar of Voters on July 3.