This Wayne County court candidate hopes taking wife's last name (Hathaway) boosts his chances

June 12, 2022, 10:25 AM

Nicholas John Hathaway "seems determined to ride his wife's robe-tails into one of the sweetest jobs in Michigan politics," M.L. Elrick of the Detroit Free Press writes at the top of a lengthy look at the Wayne County judicial candidate.

Hathaway, a juvenile court referee who changed his last name from Bobak in 2020, is married to Dana Hathaway, a county judge since 2013. The legal name swap came in November 2018, a month before his first campaign for that same court in Detroit -- a race he lost by just 371 votes.

Nicholas and Dana Hathaway (Photo: Fox 2 News)

Elrick frames the renaming as "a pretty savvy — if cynical — political play." The candidate's campaign site shows endorsements by three judges named Hathaway, the reporter adds.

While I haven't known many Bobaks that have been elected judge over the last 20 years, by blood or marriage at least 10 members of the Hathaway family have served on the Wayne County Circuit bench. 

Elrick's extensive report Sunday, which exceeds 2,400 words, reaches back to 2005. Nicholas John Bobak and and Dana Hathaway graduated that year from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

While Nicholas John Hathaway is far from the first judicial candidate to run on a well-known name, few have worked harder for the privilege.

Nicholas John Hathaway has been in court twice to fight over his right to call himself a Hathaway. ... [He] now claims "Bobak" is part of his middle name. ...

Even though he legally changed his name to Nicholas John Bobak Hathaway, he'll be on 2022 ballots without the B-word.

That appears to run counter to the Michigan Bar Association's recommendation [in 1993] that "a judicial candidate should campaign under the candidate's full name so as to avoid any mistaken identity." ...

It's hard to believe Nicholas John Bobak Hathaway isn't aware of this issue, since I brought it up in my reporting on his 2020 campaign. But if he's looking for a second opinion, he might listen to longtime political operative Mario Marrow, who has managed many local judicial campaigns.

"Mr. Bobak should consider running on his merits and not on the shoulders of his wife’s last name," Morrow said. "It’s a political move that is deceiving and worthy of exposure. He is banking on the voters not being intelligent enough to know he’s not who he says he is. It’s a slap in the face of voters. Shame on him!"

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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