Donald Segretti, convicted political prankster and would-be candidate for judge, found out just how large Watergate still looms among local voters.
On Monday, he quit the race.
Segretti, who declared himself a candidate for Superior Court judge last week, said the reaction was so negative that he decided to drop out. He said he didn’t need the job and didn’t want to drag his family through another public retelling of his old misdeeds.
“They all wanted to talk about Nixon and Watergate,” Segretti said. “It really hit a raw nerve.”
Segretti took out nominating papers last week to run for the Superior Court judgeship being vacated by Floyd H. Schenk. Segretti, a 53-year-old lawyer and former Nixon political operative, said he thought he would be an ideal candidate for the job: He has been a military prosecutor, a civil lawyer - and, of course, a defendant. Segretti said he had some solid ideas about what ails America’s judicial system.
But it was his work as a notorious Nixon “dirty trickster” that Segretti found difficult to overcome. During the 1972 presidential campaign, Segretti took part in a secretive effort to discredit Nixon’s Democratic political opponents.
Among other things, Segretti was associated with a letter sent on then-Democratic presidential candidate Edmund Muskie’s stationery accusing other Democratic candidates - former U.S. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson and former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey - of sexual misconduct and heavy drinking.
In 1973, Segretti pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of distributing illegal campaign literature. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison, and served 4 months in the federal penitentiary. His law license was suspended for two years.
For the past 17 years, Segretti has practiced civil and business law. Married with one child, he has mostly kept out of the news.