Early returns show incumbent Jackson County Circuit Judge Benjamin Bloom with a strong lead over his challenger, county prosecutor David Orr.

Early returns show incumbent Jackson County Circuit Judge Benjamin Bloom with a strong lead over his challenger, county prosecutor David Orr.

As of 8 p.m., Bloom had 54 percent of the total 54,473 votes counted. Orr had 45 percent, or 24,848 of the votes tallied.

Orr's self-funded campaign threw down a public challenge against the status quo of governor-appointed judges and campaign donations from attorneys. Orr said he was the better qualified candidate based on his experience as a prosecutor.

Bloom countered that Orr's issues with the current system only arose after Orr had failed to win the judicial appointment himself. Bloom said his civil experience is a plus for the court. And that local attorneys on both sides of the courtroom supported his campaign because he is well-respected for his character and for his judicial temperament.

— Sanne Specht