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Judge Gary Kreep Advances To November Election

Gary Kreep was elected to the San Diego Superior Court bench in the June 2012...

Credit: KPBS

Above: Gary Kreep was elected to the San Diego Superior Court bench in the June 2012 primary election.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep, who was censured by the state Commission on Judicial Performance and rated as "lacking qualifications" by the San Diego County Bar Association, secured the most votes in the June 5 primary, at 31.6 percent. He will advance to the November runoff election against Matt Brower, who earned 26.2 percent of the vote.

Steve Miller had 17.6 percent of the vote, and Victor Torres had 13.9 percent.

RELATED: Four Challengers Seek To Unseat Judge Gary Kreep After Judicial Reprimand

Kreep made a name for himself in the "birther" movement, which spread the conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. More than a year after the state of Hawaii released Obama's long-form birth certificate, Kreep continued to claim falsely that the president's citizenship was in question.

"All I'm asking is Mr. Obama to do what every other president has ever been required to do, which is prove that he was indeed a natural born citizen," Kreep said in an interview with KPBS shortly after his election in June 2012. "Every other president has done it. Mr. Obama is the first one to refuse to prove it. And that's his decision. He's the one that's made the issue."

Kreep used the issue of President Obama's citizenship in fundraising emails for his conservative legal foundation. That opposition to the president's re-election while Kreep was also campaigning for judge was just one of 29 acts of misconduct cited in a "severe public censure" issued by the state Commission on Judicial Performance last year. The reprimand is the commission's most severe punishment short of removal from the bench.

RELATED: Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep Disciplined By State Panel

Kreep was also found to have misrepresented his resume on his campaign website and in campaign finance disclosure forms. And he made inappropriate comments from the bench, such as commenting on the attractiveness of attorneys in his courtroom, implying a deputy city attorney was a prostitute, and asking a woman charged with prostitution, "Is it you like the money? Or you just like the action?"

The commission's censure found Kreep showed a "lack of sensitivity" to how his behavior undermined public trust in the courts. But it also acknowledged Kreep's behavior had modified after his first year on the bench.

Still, the San Diego County Bar Association in its judicial evaluation process found Kreep is "lacking qualifications." He was the only candidate to receive that rating.

His likely November challenger, Brower, is a deputy district attorney who has the backing of law enforcement unions, the San Diego County Democratic Party and a number of Republican and Democratic elected officials. The bar association rated him "qualified."

Miller is a retired federal prosecutor endorsed by Garland Peed, the attorney who lost the election to Kreep in 2012. The bar association rated him "qualified" as well.

And Torres is a civil rights attorney with support from several lawyers associations and both liberal and conservative groups. He's the only candidate in the race that got the bar association's highest evaluation: "exceptionally qualified." He has also out-raised all other candidates in the race.

Editor's Note: We've updated the headline and copy to reflect that Judge Gary Kreep received the plurality of votes, not the majority of votes as previously stated.

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