Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran's abrupt decision not to seek retention in 2006 has potential candidates positioning for favor in the March 21 primary.

The victor may end up being the one who lines up the most formidable organization in short order: gathering approximately 500 petitions by Jan. 10, organizing a campaign committee and securing financial support.

So far Madison County Associate Judges James Hackett, a Republican, and Ellar Duff, a Democrat, have announced they will seek election. But, the field of candidates is expected to grow as a number of contenders mull over their prospects.

"If there is more than one candidate in the primary, we won't endorse one," said Madison County Republican Central Committee Chairman Rosalie Davis. "We will want to interview them."

Mac Warfield, chairman of the Madison County Democratic Central Committee, said his group hasn't met to decide who it would endorse yet.

"I would think we would have an endorsement by the first week of January," Warfield said.

Associate Judge Clarence Harrison, a Democrat who sought election to the vacancy created by the retirement of Circuit Judge Phillip Kardis, told the Record that he will make a decision after the holidays.

"I definitely have an interest though," Harrison said. "I just want to wait until after Christmas to make a definite decision."

Harrison, son of former appellate court justice Moses Harrison, withdrew from the race when Edwardsville trial attorney Dave Hylla received the county Democrat endorsement.

Hylla will face Circuit Judge Don Weber in the general election.

Hackett said he will run in the primary if he can get the 500 signatures he needs.

"I will give it a run for," Hackett said.

Associate Judge Barbara Crowder, a Democrat who also sought Kardis's spot, said she was giving serious consideration to running for the open seat on the circuit.

However, she said, her ailing parents require a lot of attention and that may influence her decision.

Republican Steve Stobbs, an attorney and Madison County Board member from Godfrey, was in close contention for the circuit appointment Weber received after Kardis retired.

But Stobbs said he would not seek election this time.

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