It looks like money will play a big role in the upcoming April 2 Wisconsin Supreme Court race featuring two appellate court judges, Last week various news outlets reported that Judge Lisa Neubauer has a slight fundraising edge over Judge Brian Hagedorn.

Technically, this is a nonpartisan race, and neither of the state’s two major political parties can endorse a candidate, but both parties clearly have their favorites, with Neubauer is gaining a lot of support from Democrats. Hagedorn, who was former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s attorney, has picked up a lot of his support from conservatives and Republicans.

Judge Neubauer is set to attend a meet and greet on Saturday evening, Feb. 23, at the Gooseblind in Green Lake. The event is open to the public.

The two judges are seeking the seat being vacated by term-limited State Supreme Court Judge Shirley Abrahamson. Abrhamson 85, has consistently been a liberal voice on the court. At one time she served as its chief justice.

Today, however, the court has a decided conservative majority, with 4-3  votes often in favor of conservative/Republican positions. If Judge Neubauer wins in April, her victory will set the stage for a a critical 2020 contest that could produce a dramatic change in the court.

If he decides to seek another 10-year term in 2020, conservative Judge Dan Kelley, a Walker appointee, will undoubtedly face a formidable challenge from the opposition camp. Kellyu, who has not had to run for election previously, may decide not to run. But if he does, and he loses in 2020, the court’s balance could shift to the left. Most analysts expect the 2020 race to be the most hotly contested judicial race in state history, and probably the most expensive.

During December’s lame-duck session, Republicans considered moving the date of the 2020 presidential preference primary, which currently coincides with the nonpartisan spring election, to a later date in the hopes that election-weary voters would not show up at the polls. Republican legislators hoped that a lower turnout would benefit benefit Kelly. Eventually, after hearing from the clerks in many municipalities that a third election would be costly and difficult to conduct, the GOP backed off of its plan.

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