Former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders says he is a candidate to serve on the Supreme Court again.

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Former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders, who narrowly lost his bid for re-election in 2010, is trying for a comeback.

He announced his candidacy Thursday for the seat now held by Justice Tom Chambers, who is not running for re-election.

Three other candidates are already in the race: former Pierce County Prosecutor and County Executive John Ladenburg, King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Hilyer and private-practice appellate attorney Sheryl Gordon.

Sanders said he was entering the race because there wasn’t a candidate he felt would vigorously protect citizens’ rights as he has done.

He branded Ladenburg and Hilyer “career politicians” and “liberal Democrats,” saying, “I see this as a unique position not suitable for career politicians or for sound bites but for contemplation and a principled approach to protecting the rights of every individual. That means the private citizens.”

Hilyer and Ladenburg said Sanders’ claim of partisanship was ironic after Sanders appeared on the platform at a February rally for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul. By one calculation, Hilyer said, Sanders favored defendants over the prosecution in 90 percent of criminal cases before the Supreme Court and made the high court “a soapbox for an ideology.”

Ladenburg said it was inappropriate for Sanders to endorse a partisan candidate while running for a judicial post and for him to say he would have changed the outcome of a case involving red-light cameras if he had been on the court. “Apparently rules don’t apply to Richard Sanders,” Ladenburg said.

Sanders, a Supreme Court justice from 1995 to 2011, lost his 2010 re-election bid to Charlie Wiggins. Sanders was the subject of intense controversy when The Seattle Times reported his comments that African Americans may be disproportionately incarcerated because they commit more crimes rather than because the criminal-judicial system is biased.

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com