Judge Lisa Neubauer will speak Saturday morning at the Nov. 2 meeting of the Green Lake Dems & Friends. Neubauer, the chief judge of the District II of the Wisconsin Appeals Court chambered in Waukesha is running for reelection to the court in April 2020. District II is chambered in Waukesha and contains Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago counties.

By Malcolm McIntyre
When you meet Lisa Neubauer, currently a candidate for election to the state’s District II Appeal Court, she seems an unlikely politician. In fact, if you ask her if she is a politician she likely would say no, she’s a judge. Which, of course, she is. And has been for some time.

Unfortunately, like it or not, Judge Neubauer, is also reluctant politician, thanks to the electoral system in place in Wisconsin. Like her fellow judges, at all levels in the state, she is forced to stand for election in what is called a nonpartisan election. Hogwash.

As Neubauer learned the hard way last April, when Brian Hagedorn, a come-lately judge and a former attorney for Republican Governor Scott Walker, “nonpartisan” elections are often extremely political.

And expensive. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, total expenditures in the election topped $6 million, making it one of the most expensive Wisconsin Supreme Court elections in state history.

Last April, backed by a flood of last-minute out-of-state dark conservative money, which fueled a spate of inaccurate and misleading television ads attacking Neubauer, Hagedorn gained a critical seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. It was a close race; Hagedorn won by only 5,960 votes out of a total vote of 1,206,847 for the two top vote-getters. Neubauer lost by .5 of a percent.

The significance of his win was enormous because it gave the conservative, Republican wing of the court–which is supposed to be impartial–a 5-2 majority.

Hagedorn–remember as a judge he is supposed to be impartial–stated publicly in the past that Planned Parenthood is “a wicked organization,” the NAACP is “a disgrace to America,” and Roe v. Wade is “the worst and most unjustifiable decision in history.”

Neubauer and her supporters, mostly Democrats, Progressives, and Independents, shocked by both the last minute flood of dark money into Hagedorn;s campaign, and by her defeat, seem to have learned a painful and difficult lesson: Play nice and by the rules, and you lose.

Neubauer, in her campaign for the Supreme Court, angered many of her supporters because she kept them at arm’s length, unlike Hagedorn. Yes, she accepted money from various groups (how else do you fund a campaign), but the vast majority of her funds came from in-state.

Neubauer actually raised slightly more money for her campaign than Hagedorn, but last minute spending by Hagedorn supporters on a controversial television ad campaign seemed to turn the tide for Hagedorn. The out-of-state National Republican State Leadership Committee spend more than a $1 million on television ads attacking Judge Neubauer as a liberal supported by “radical, out-of-state special interest groups.” That of course is ironic since the Republican State Leadership Committee is an outside interest group.

Read article on Republican spending on late ad campaign in support of Hagedorn

View Neubauer’s website

Read a conservative perspective on the Hagedorn victory

The Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting the first Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Caestecker Public Library. All meetings are open to the public.