Wisconsin Dems may be a role model for the rest of the United States; Karofsky win demonstrates value of digital outreach

Newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Jill Karofsky.

 

So, how did Jill Karofsky upend incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly in the battle for Kelly’s seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court? The New York Times thinks it has the answer. In a On Politics report published today (April 14), the Times says it was smart use of digital media, and in particular, text messaging. The article suggests that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, Karofksy’s campaign was forced to switch tactics–no more door-to-door canvassing–and it worked.

Read the full item from the New York Times

Judge Lisa Neubauer retains seat on appeals court; turns back Republican challenger, Judge Paul Bugenhagen

Judge Lisa Neubauer (center)

In another one of the pretend nonpartisan judicial elections, Lisa Neubauer, the chief judge of the District II Appeals Court, which is headquartered in Waukesha, defeated Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Paul Bughagen

Judge Neubauer attracted  228,670 votes (54%) to Bugenhgen’s 194,959 (46%)

In Green Lake, Neubauser, who was upset in an extremely close race last year by Brian Hagedorn when the two sought a seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, surprisingly topped Bugenhagen, 2,453 (54%) to 2068 (46%). By most accounts, Green Lake is a strong Republican county.

Green Lake County is one of the counties included in District II.

As with other so-called nonpartisan judicial elections in Wisconsin, this one also had strong political affiliations with Bughagen receiving support from Republicans and conservatives, while Neubauer was the favorite of progressives and Democrats.

Read article on the election from the Journal Sentinel.

Jill Karofsky upsets incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly for seat on the state’s top court

Newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Jill Karofsky spoke at the Jan. 4 meeting of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends.

 

Judge Jill Karofsky’s win in a fight for a seat on the state’s top court was a bit of a pleasant surprise

The Dane County Circuit Court Judge not only defeated incumbent Wisconsin State Supreme Court Judge Daniel Kelly for his seat on the state’s top court, she won by almost 10 percent, a strong showing in a race that had most pre-election day observers uncertain of its outcome.

Karofsky received 812,520 votes to Kelly’s 679,820. Together, they pulled in just over 1.5 million votes. Karofsky’s total reflects 54.5 percent of the vote; Kelly had 45.6 percent.

In 2019, the last time a spot on the top court was open, Brian Hagedorn, heavily backed by conservatives and Republicans, upset Lia Neubauer in a close race. Neubauer, who had the support of most Democrats and Progressives, had been favored. Hagedorn outpolled Neubauer by just over 6,000 votes, 606,414 to 600,433.

Officially, the contest on Tuesday was nonpartisan, but as with the Neubauer-Hagedorn battle, it was clearly a fight between the state’s two major political parties. 

President Donad Trump had publicly endorsed both Hagedorn and Kelly. Kelly had been appointed to the court in 2016 by former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Complicating the Karofsky/Kelly race was a number of unexpected issues. First, the CORVID-19 pandemic kept most people from voting in person on Tuesday. And in some locations, such as Milwaukee, only five polling places were open on Tuesday which resulted in long lines of people waiting for hours to vote.

Because of the pandemic, many voters voted via absentee ballots and there were reports of people requesting but not receiving their ballots in time to vote. Finally, according to other reports, some bags of absentee ballots were found sitting in some post offices after the polls closed on Tuesday, too late to be counted. 

A key to the Karofsky win appears to be the strong voter turnout. Last year, Neubauer and Hagedorn together earned 1,207,564 votes.  This year, Karofsky and Kelly collected a total of just under 1.5 million votes, for an gain of 300,000. Neubauer, in 2019, gained 606,433 votes. Karofsky, who ran a more aggressive campaign, topped her this April by about 212,000 votes. Kelly also did slightly better than Hagedorn,  his conservative benchmate, pulling in about 73,000 more votes than Hagedorn.

View article on the Karofsky/Kelley race from the Wisconsin Examiner.

 

 

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THIS OUT: A critical look at the Wisconsin Supreme Court race between Daniel Kelly and Jill Karofsky

If you are looking for an excellent analysis of the critical Wisconsin Supreme Court battle being waged right now by incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican Governor Scott Walker, and challenger Jill Karofsky, who is a Dane County Circuit Court judge, this article from the Wisconsin Examiner, is an excellent read.

The thrust of the article is that the election will decide the direction of the court for years to come. Accordingly, if you are concerned about the fairness of our court system, you need to understand where both candidates sit on key issues.

Thanks to Ken Knight for alerting us to the article, which you can view and read here.

When you’re done with the article, please share it with everyone you know who has not yet voted, and urge them to share with their friends, neighbors, family, and acquaintances.

Conservatives and the Republican State Leadership Committee running misleading ads in effort to defeat Jill Karofsky

Judge Jill Karofsky is a candidate for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court seat now held by conservative Daniel Kelly, a Scott Walker appointee.

They have started, as expected. Conservative groups opposed to Judge Jill Karofsky have started running ads against her as she fights to take a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat away from seating Justice Daniel Kelley, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Karofsky and Kelley face off in the April 7 spring general election.

According to PolitiFacts, the ads contain wrong information. Why are we not surprised? In 2018, conservatives backing Brian Hagedorn, who was battling favored Lisa Nuebauer for a seat on the state’s top court, also launched a series of last-minute ads, mostly on television, that distorted her record. Neubauer was apparently caught off her guard and many observers feel the negative ad campaign helped Hagedorn, another favorite of the Walker administration, upset Neubauer.

Could the same thing happen to Karofsky, who is campaigning hard for the post? Guess we will have to wait and see. The irony, of course, is the election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is supposed to be nonpartisan.  Clearly, it is not, with Kelly receiving considerable support for the state’s Republican Party and Karofsky earning support from many Democrats. 

Read more from the PolitiFacts article.

Karofsky and Kelley debate live on WisconsinEye Thursday noon

Judge Jill Karofsky

Just got word that the debate Thursday, March 12, 2020, between Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and challenger Judge Jill Karofsky can be viewed live at noon on WisconsinEye.org. It is slated to start at noon. If you miss the debate as it happens, you can view it later on WisconsinEye.org.

 

Supreme Court candidate Daniel Kelly gains endorsement from the National Rifle Association; are dollars far behind?

Justice Kelly holds fundraiser at gun club day after the shootings at Molson Coors in Milwaukee

Judge Jill Karofsky, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Justice Daniel Kelly, was one of several candidates speaking at the Jan. 4 meeting of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, appointed to the state’s top court by former Republican Governor Scott Walker, held a fundraiser on Feb. 27, a day after five people were shot and killed at the Molson Coors Brewing facility in Milwaukee.  According to a report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, there were three levels of giving, with each level being named after automatic weapons.

Last month, the National Rifle Association, which has been a big financial supporter of GOP legislative candidates in the past, endorsed Kelly. The Democracy Campaign added, “Between January 1998 and December 2019, the NRA spent more than $5.5 million on outside electioneering activities to support GOP and conservative legislative and statewide candidates. The bulk of the NRA’s electioneering spending, more than $4.4 million, went to support Walker’s 2010 general, 2012 recall, and 2014 and 2018 reelection campaigns.”

Kelly, who is backed by many conservatives and Republicans is seeking reelection on April 7. His opponent is Judge Jill Karofsky. Karofsky, who has the backing of progressive, liberals, and Democrats spoke to the Green Lake County Dems & Friends back in January. Officially, the April 7 contest is nonpartisan.

Read the full article from the Democracy Campaign website.

Kelly and Karofsky advance to the April 7 Wisconsin Supreme Court election

Now the real battle for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is on.

With their wins in Tuesday’s nonpartisan (wink-wink) primary election, conservative Daniel Kelly and Democrat Jill Karofsky advanced to the April 7 general election.

Kelly, strongly supported by the Republican Party, and Karofsky, a favorite of Democrats, easily outpolled Marquette Law School Professor Ed Fallone, in his second bid for a seat on the state’s top court.

As expected, Kelly led with just over 50% of the vote. Karofsky and Fallone split the Democrat or progressive vote with Karofsky gaining just under 38% of the vote and Fallone coming in with 13% percent,

Based on the results Tuesday, it would seem that the April 7 election is a toss-up, although the total turnout Tuesday was not high, given the weather and the fact that the Supreme Court race was the only one on the ticket. Traditionally, elections like the one Tuesday, do not draw well.

Both Judge Karofsky and Fallone spoke to the Green Lake County Dems & Friends at earlier meetings.

View article on the election results from the Journal Sentinel.

Green Lake Reporter did not ignore Karofsky or Anderson presentations in Green Lake

The appearance in Green Lake of two candidates for public office. Jill Karofsky and Joni Anderson, did not go unnoticed by the Green Lake Reporter. The Reporter ran an article, with a photo of Karofsky, on its front page. The article on Anderson’s presentation was at the top of page six.

Both candidates spoke at the Jan. 4 meeting of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends. Karofsky seeks a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Anderson is running for the 14th State Senate seat now held by Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Karofsky faces two challengers in a Feb. 18th nonpartisan primary: Marquette Law School Professor Ed Fallone and incumbent Supreme Court Judge Daniel Kelly. Kelly was appointed to the state’s highest court by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The two top choices in the primary will meet again in the April 7 general election. If you are not subscribed to the Green Lake Reporter or any of the other Berlin Journal Publications, you can find copies in your local library or news outlets, or take out a subscription for only $47 a year. 

 

Missed the Jan. 9 Dems & Friends meeting? Check out Commonwealth Press coverage of our speakers

If you were not able to attend the Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting on Jan. 4, you missed an extremely informative meeting featuring three candidates running for public office this year. 

But, fear not, the Ripon Commonwealth Press reported on the meeting in some detail. So, if you want to read about what candidates Judge Jill Karofsky and Joni Anderson had to say, check out the Jan. 9 issue of the paper. 

Karofsky, of course, is running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat now held by Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Anderson is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican State Senator Luther Olsen.

The award-winning Commonwealth Press had separate articles on Karofsky and Anderson on page 7. 

If you don’t subscribe to the newspaper, you can probably find a copy at your local newspaper outlet, or at your local library. Better yet, subscribe. It has been and continues to be a great source for information on local candidates, elections, and issues. An annual  subscription is only $40. Given the cost of other local newspapers, it is a bargain. 

Judge Karofsky submits the maximum number of signatures, 4,000, on her nomination papers

Dane County judge Jilll Karofsky addresses the crowd at the Valley Victory Heritage Dinner. Karofsky is on the ballot in the spring primary election.

 

The two candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court that have received support from progressives, liberals, and the Democratic Party, Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law School Professor Ed Fallone, will be on the ballot on Feb. 18, after their nomination papers and signatures were accepted by the Wisconsin Election Commission on Tuesday.

Joining them on the ballot is seating Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, an appointee of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

According to the Elections Commission, Karofsky had 4,000 valid signatures, the maximum allowed; Fallone, 2,363, and Kelly, 3,809.  While there may be challenges to some of the signatures, and the Elections Commission may reject some of the signatures, all three should survive any challenges. 

Officially, the election is classified as a nonpartisan election. 

The top two vote getters advance to the general election on April 4.

More information available on Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone

Marquette Law Professor Ed Fallone, seeking to win a seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court in 2020, is set to speak to the Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting on Saturday, Feb. 1.

 

We have more information on two of three candidates seeking a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, thanks to Grass Roots North Shore, an independent Political Action Committee (PAC) registered with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. As such, it operates independently of any political party.

Links to the information are below.

Judge Jill Karofsky, who spoke to us on Saturday, Jan. 4, and Ed Fallone, who is scheduled to meet with us on Feb. 1, answered identical questions about their candidacy.

Read Judge Karofsky’s answers.

Read Professor Ed Fallone’s answers.

The two, along with incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to his spot on the bench by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, face off in a nonpartisan primary election on Feb. 18. The two top vote-getters advance to the general election on April 4. 

 

Four candidates for public office spoke at Jan. 4, Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting

Judge Jill Karofsky, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Justice Daniel Kelly, was one of several candidates speaking at the Jan. 4 meeting of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends.

 

Joni Anderson

Four candidates for election spoke to the Green Lake County Dems & Friends on Saturday morning, Jan. 4. Heading up the list was Judge Jill Karofsky, a candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Judge Karofsky is in a three-person nonpartisan primary fight on Feb. 18 to select the two candidates who will face off in the April 7 general election. 

For more on Judge Karofsky, check out her Facebook page and website

Another one of the candidates for the seat on the state Supreme Court now held by Dan Kelly, who was appointed–not elected–to the court by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, is Ed Fallone a Marquette University Law School professor. Fallone will join us on Saturday, Feb. 1, for our regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Check back in the coming weeks for more on Fallone and his upcoming visit to Green Lake

Also speaking on Saturday morning was Joni Anderson, a Democrat, seeking to replace incumbent Republican State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon). Anderson, from Adams County has been a longtime union official and she is promoting her union leadership as one of the reasons people should vote for her. Anderson and Nate Zimdars, a Democrat from Ripon, and a current member of the Ripon School Board, will meet in a primary on Aug. 11. The winner of that election will face off against Olsen on in the Nov. 3, 2020, general elections.

Ken Bates

The third candidate speaking Saturday morning was former Green Lake School District Administrator Ken Bates, who is seeking a seat on the Green Lake County Board of Supervisors.  Bates was not at the meeting to promote his candidacy, but instead to urge attendees to consider running for several open positions on the board.

The fourth candidate was Zimdars, who was also there to alert attendees to several openings on the Ripon School Board.  

As always, meetings of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends, held on the first Saturday of the month, are open to the public. Approximately 45 people attended the meeting Saturday.

OPINION: Why do we persist on calling this election a nonpartisan contest when it is clearly partisan?

One of the many absurdities involving our electoral process is the idea that there are nonpartisan elections. 

Case in point, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to the court by former Republican Governor Scott Walker as a reward for his work helping the Republican Party’s defense of its obscene redistricting after the 2010 census, is now renting space for his campaign from the Republic Party.

As reported in a recent article on wislawjournal.com, Kelly is also receiving help in his campaign from the GOP. Clearly, Kelly and the state Republican Party are not even pretending to be nonpartisan.

Kelly is facing two opponents, Marquette Law School Professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky in a primary election on Feb. 18.

Both Fallone and Karofsky are not being openly endorsed or supported by the state’s Democratic Party. The two, however, have been actively courting support from Democrats.

Both are scheduled to speak to the Green Lake County Dems & Friends; Karofsky at the organization’s Saturday, Jan. 4, meeting, and Fallone at the Feb. 1, Saturday, meeting.

 

Last year, Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer narrowly lost a “nonpartisan” election to Brian Hagedorn, who also openly had support from the state’s Republican party. Hagedorn too had worked for Walker. 

Neubauer, who is now seeking reelection to her District 2 appeals court post, angered a lot of Democrats last year when she turned down their active support because she felt it would have violated the nonpartisan aspect of the election. 

Neubauer played by the rules and it probably cost her the election last year. So far, Karofksy and Fallone are doing the same thing, although their opponent, Kelly is not. 

If a sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice is flaunting the rules that pertain to nonpartisan elections, doesn’t that suggest that we do away with the facade that these elections are nonpartisan; let’s make them fair and treat them as they really are: partisan, just like most elections. Let’s make the playing field equal. 

 

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