By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Mar 16, 2008 at 6:00 PM

I'll admit it, I'm perhaps not as tuned in as I should be into the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court judge.

I'll also admit that until I started seeing these vague and confusing commercials lately, I didn't even know a race was underway.

In fact, I had to figure it out myself, since these commercials mention neither the race at hand, when the election is, or who they'd like me to vote for. They just tell me why some judge I've never heard of is soft on crime, peppering in some bobbling heads, grainy, stock footage of criminals and prisons and testimonials from organizations I've never heard of.

Then they tell me to call some number in the 608 or 715 or area code and tell this judge I've had enough.

Um, why are you telling me to do this?

Surely, you don't really want me to call these judges. I've gathered that these are third-party negative ads indirectly pitching a candidate for an upcoming April election (again, no date is shown, but I'm sure I'll figure it out). Apparently the candidates, whose names I don't recall, are soft on crime and let criminals go free.

Maybe I'm being naïve, but isn't it the job of state judges to enforce laws, not to enact them? I know there's room for interpretation, as is the case at the U.S. Supreme Court, but is it that highly partisan at the state level? If it is, do I even have the knowledge at my fingertips to make an educated decision about who to vote for? More importantly, should this really be up to me, or should the Wisconsin Supreme Court justices be appointed by an elected official?

Maybe if I saw some commercials with a few salient points from the candidates (whoever they are) on why they're great judges, I'd feel more comfortable voting next month. I highly doubt these guys are really setting rapists free, nor are they "keystone kops" they're portrayed to be. If these commercials work as a loophole into a 501.c style endorsement (I noticed no one is saying "I've approved this message" at the end), they're not working.

Not only do I not feel strongly about either of these candidates, I'd prefer my judges to follow the law, not to serve as activists. I'd be more impressed if one of these commercials simply said, "Hi, I'm Judge Blah-blah-blah. I've been a judge for 20 years, and I have a record of ruling consistently with the state's laws, whether I agree with them or not."

And until that, I object. Unless these obscure campaigns change their tactics, I'm not voting for anyone for that position come April.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.