During the 1994 election season, County Judge Gary Graham can send out any type of campaign postcards he wants.
That was the message a U.S. district judge sent out this week when he dismissed a lawsuit that Graham had filed against State Attorney General Bob Butterworth and State Attorney Brad King.
In the federal suit, Graham alleged that a campaign law saying judicial candidates may not "pay for any advertisement sponsored by another person or group which endorses the candidate for election to the bench" was unconstitutional.
The issue came up during the 1990 campaign, when Graham's opponent, Charles Horn, said Graham's campaign postcards were illegal.
The cards featured Graham's picture and the words "I am supporting Judge Graham because . . .," leaving room for the writer to fill in a message.
Supporters then could distribute the cards to fellow Graham allies.
In addition, Graham paid to publish advertisements in the newspaper that featured letters praising him.
State Attorney Brad King said Graham, though in technical violation of the law, did not have criminal intent. The matter went no further.
But Graham said he wanted to press the issue because he planned to used the postcards again when he runs for re-election in 1994.
In reviewing the case, Chief U.S. District Judge John H. Moore II noted the "sponsored by" language in the law. Graham never wanted to pay a third party to buy an advertisement that endorsed him, so he has broken no law and would not if he continued on this course, the judge wrote.
That clears Graham to use the letter tactic, and the postcards, in 1994.
Moore, who sits in Jacksonville, chose not to address whether the law was unconstitutional.