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.



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. [perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]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.[/perfectpullquote]


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. 


How would you respond if you, your sister, daughter or niece, all bystanders, were stripped searched without even being arrested?

Appeals Court Chief Justic Lisa Nebauer. left, chats with Green Lake County Dems & Friends chair Linda Wilkens before the Nov. 2 meeting.

If you were a young Lisa Neubauer, you would be motivated to become at attorney and eventually a judge. On Saturday morning, in Green Lake, Judge Neubauer, now a candidate for reelection to the State Court of Appeals for District II, told a crowd of about 45 Green Lake County Dems & Friends that her experience, while certainly illegal, was a catalyst for making law her career. Check back later in the week for more on Judge Neubauer’s quest for reelection to the court and her campaign for restoring trust in our judicial system.

Note that when Neubauer, then a law student, protested the search, saying that she knew it was unconstitutional since she had not been arrested, she was told, “ok, then we will arrest you.”

Visit her Facebook page.

Visit her website. 

Late influx of negative advertising may have cost Judge Neubauer a seat on Wisconsin Supreme Court

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.



Judge Neubauer confirmed for November Green Lake County Dems & Friends meeting

Lisa Neubauer, chief judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II, has confirmed that she will speak at the November 2, 2019, meeting of the Green Lake County Dems & Friends. Neubauer also spoke at the recent annual 6th CD JFK fundraising dinner at Ripon College on Oct. 13. She is currently running for reelection to the Court of Appeals. District II includes Calumet, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha and Winnebago counties. Court of Appeals judges are elected to six-year terms in what are billed as nonpartisan elections. Neubauer was first appointed to the court in 2007 by former governor Tony Earl

Judge Neubauer was a candidate for judge of the Wisconsin Supreme Court last April. Brian Hagedorn, who was strongly supported by conservatives and Republicans, won that election, 606,414 to 600,433.

The Nov. 2 Dems & Friends’ meeting, which starts at 10 a.m., is at the Caestecker Public Library, Green Lake. It is open to the public.


Brian Hagedorn. Lisa Neubauer’s opponent in April 2 election for State Supreme Court, appearing at Ripon College on Monday, March 11.

The following is a slightly edited version of an announcement posted by Jaye Alderson, March 6, 2019, in Political PublicationsSpecial Event on the Ripon College website.

Brian Hagedorn, who is running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, will speak at Ripon College, on Monday, March 11.

His talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Kresge Little Theatre, East Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Ripon College Republicans is [sic] hosting Hagedorn’s talk.

Hagedorn is running for the State Supreme Court in the election on April 2. His opponent is Judge Lisa Neubauer.

Hagedorn is a judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, serving in the court’s Waukesha-based District II since Aug. 1, 2015.

Hagedorn served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Scott Walker for almost five years, where he managed litigation in partnership with the attorney general, served as the top ethics officer for the administration, advised on legal policy issues, oversaw judicial and district attorney appointments, and provided legal analysis on proposed legislation.Walker appointed him to the bench in 2015 and won election to a new six-year term in April 2017. He was appointed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to serve on the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, which oversees enforcement of the judicial code of ethics.
He also has served as an assistant attorney general at the Wisconsin Department of Justice, a law clerk for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, and as an attorney in private practice for a Milwaukee law firm.

Article says a win by Judge Neubauer in the April 2 election for the state Supreme Court may set stage for a revamping of the decidedly conservative court

A recent Associated Press article headlines: “Liberals eye 2020 takeover of Wisconsin Supreme Court.”  The article continues: “Wisconsin liberals hope to take a key step this spring toward breaking a long conservative stranglehold on the state’s Supreme Court, in an election that could also serve as a barometer of the political mood in a key presidential swing state.

If the liberal-backed candidate wins the April 2 state Supreme Court race, liberals would be in prime position to take over the court when the next seat comes up in 2020 — during a presidential primary when Democrats expect to benefit from strong turnout.”

Read the full article

GOP pleased with Hagedorn’s fundraising effort during last half of 2018

Members of Wisconsin’s Republican Party appear pleased with the amount of money raised over the last half of 2018 by conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn. Hagedorn is running against Judge Lisa Neuibauer in the April 2 election for a seat on the court being vacated by retiring Judge Shirley Abrahamson.

According to their figures, Hagedorn raised over $310,000 in the last half of the year. According to a post on the wisgop.org website, “The announcement is a sign of a strong campaign with a message that is resonating across Wisconsin. This end-of-year haul has surpassed the top fundraising totals of nearly all recent Supreme Court candidates in the last six months of a year leading up to an April election.”

According to another report, Hagedorn’s total is “almost three times as much as Screnock and almost $100,000 more than Justice Rebecca Dallet raised at this point in the campaign.” 

“At stake is more than just one Supreme Court seat. If conservatives fail to win this seat, the Democrats will just be one Spring election in 2020, held at the same time as their presidential primary, from being able to accomplish all of their Progressive dreams by judicial fiat. If the Democrats gain control of the Court, they can rewrite the legislative district lines just like they have in other states. They can override the legislature and mandate school spending levels – which will mean even higher taxes. They can undo all of the reforms of the Walker era without ever having to go through the legislature.

Instead of focusing on the presidential election, everything that matters in Wisconsin is on the line right now.”

For more on how Republicans and conservatives view what is happening in Wisconsin, visit Right Wisconsin.

Visit our We’re Watching Judge Lisa Neubauer page for the latest on her campaign.

Thanks to Penny Howell for alerting us to this item.



Milwaukee GOP group headed by Hagedorn’s son ran “joke” about Justice Ginsebery being groped by President Lincoln

The Milwaukee County GOP deleted a tweet back in September, 2018, that mocks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by suggesting President Abraham Lincoln groped her.

The tweet featured a meme that’s made the rounds on social media during the ongoing debate over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. It showed a picture of the 85-year-old Ginsburg and says, “Abraham Lincoln grabbed my ass in 1862.” It was posted on a Monday but was deleted the next day.

The chair of the Milwaukee group is Sam Hagedorn, the son of Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn. Brian Hagedorn, who was former Gov. Scott Walker’s “legal advisor” is running on April 2 against Justice Lisa Neubauer for the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Shirley Abrahamson.

Read full article form the Wisconsin Law Journal


Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Lisa Neubauer visiting Green Lake on Saturday, Feb. 23

Candidates for statewide office in Wisconsin know Green Lake and by extension the Green Lake County Dems & Friends. Last year (we can say that now) we and our friends in Adams, Marquette, and Waushara Counties saw every major Democrat seeking statewide office pay us a visit. We’re on the map.

Next month, Appellate court judge Lisa Neubauer joins the impressive list of candidates seeking our support. Neubauer, of course, is running for a spot on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.  

This is a nonpartisan election. By charter with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, we can’t endorse candidates in nonpartisan elections, but as individuals we can support her. Accordingly, Judge Neubauer will be here on Saturday night, Feb. 23, at the Gooseblind.

For more on Judge Neubauer, check out our We’re watching Lisa Neubauer page.

For more details on her visit, check our Facebook page.

Hagedorn, a candidate for State Supreme Court post has extreme views on major issues

Ok, the ugly stuff is starting to emerge.

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that Appellate Judge Brian Hagedorn, who was appointed to the appellate court by former Governor Scott Walker, and who served as Walker’s legal advisor (whatever that means) before being rewarded with that court appointment, wrote in 2005 on a blog that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law could lead to the legislation of bestiality, sex with animals, in America.

Hagedorn is seeking election on April 2 to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. 

He is being opposed by Judge Lisa Neubauer, who is the chief justice of the same appellate court.

Updated Feb. 3, 2018

Read the full Journal Sentinel article.  
Here is another article on Hagedorn’s extreme views.

Judges Neubauer and Hagedorn set for what might be the most expensive State Supreme Court election in state history

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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