Every judge on the Sacramento Superior Court bench has endorsed his opponent, herself a sitting judge.
The district attorney, the sheriff, the Sacramento police chief, the police unions, crime victims' advocacy groups, the biggest names in the local legal community they're all in Judge Tami Bogert's corner.
But in a race that's gone almost completely under the political radar, a former deputy district attorney and workers' comp court administrator has put together enough campaign cash to possibly cause a ruckus before county voters decide things on Tuesday.
Keven P. Star is his name, and he's gotten it out there in the county's only contested judicial election with street signs and mailers financed by a campaign fund that stood at $145,379 as of May 19. That was almost a dollar-for-dollar match of the $153,152.88 garnered by Bogert.
One big difference, though, is that $135,000 of Star's money came from two loans $20,000 from the candidate himself and $115,000 from his father, Jack Star, an electrical engineer from San Diego. According to Star's campaign finance report, 12 people contributed to his judicial run. Only three of them live in Sacramento County.
Bogert, who lives in Placer County, dropped in a $50,000 loan to her campaign, too. But she's also had about 175 donors contribute to her election, including judges and heavy-hitting local lawyers like Tina Thomas, McGregor Scott, Roger Dreyer and Don Heller.
"She's gone through a vetting process through the judicial evaluations committee of the State Bar, which evaluates people for appointments for the governor, and and she was found qualified to be a judge," Heller said. "I know her to be a very bright young judge from my limited appearances in front of her. She has a very, very nice judicial temperament."
Asked about Bogert's wall of endorsements and how he hopes to convince the county's voters they're all wrong, Star just shrugged. He pointed out that the election will be decided not by the endorsers but by the more than 600,000 voters in Sacramento County who are eligible to cast ballots.
Star said he feels his experience is wider and deeper than Bogert's.
"This is basically a situation where a lot of the people have circled the wagons, whether they're appointees or not," Star said. "I think it's really a matter of qualifications. I'm the person who's done felony trials. I'm the person who has been a (deputy) DA before. I think I'm the best qualified. I think the voters will see that. The voters are smart."
Appointed to the bench in December 2010 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bogert seemed a bit shocked by the level of backing she's received from her fellow judges and the rest of the Sacramento County legal establishment.
"I am overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible outpouring of support," Bogert said. "I feel great about the last couple months. Looking forward to (Tuesday), it's been a rewarding and fulfilling experience for me."
So far, the campaign has been decidedly not nasty. The challenger is making his case by keeping it mostly about himself: he's an Army veteran, a 25-year practicing attorney, he prosecuted 20 trials as a Sacramento deputy district attorney, and he supervised more than 170 judges as chief judge for the workers' comp system.
Star did take a minor jab at Bogert's establishment support by advertising himself as the "no strings attached" candidate, somebody who doesn't have to answer to "politicians or political interest groups."
The dig didn't register at all with Bogert. She said she's never met Star, "or seen him in any way," and "I'm not aware of the campaign he's run at all."
"I've certainly conducted myself in a way that I think shows respect for the judicial office and in a way people expect folks running for judge to comport themselves," Bogert said. "It's not my style to sling mud."
A former state deputy attorney general and an ex-Public Employment Relations Board lawyer, Bogert at first worked misdemeanors after her appointment to the bench.
Earlier this year, she moved to the jail-based home courts. They're the expressway of justice in Sacramento, where judges in four courtrooms each handle more than 100 felony cases a week, ranging from accused murderers to drug dealers, trying to get lawyers to resolve things if they can and ship them over to trial courts if they can't.