Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Becomes Latest Partisan Battleground

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks about the Foxconn deal on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at the Chippewa Valley Technical College Energy Education Center in Eau Claire, Wis. (Marisa Wojcik/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram via AP)
Marisa Wojcik/The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

All eyes will be on Wisconsin Tuesday, where a typically lackluster state Supreme Court election has blossomed into an object of national curiosity.

A win for Rebecca Dallet, a Democrat endorsed by big names like former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Vice President Joe Biden, would be interpreted as further evidence of building progressive momentum in the state. A victory for Republican Michael Screnock, meanwhile, would prompt a sigh of relief from Gov. Scott Walker (R) and the GOP-controlled legislature.

Both sides desperately want to secure the 10-year seat on the ostensibly non-partisan, powerful court. Conservatives hope to maintain their current 5-2 advantage, while Democrats hope to nudge the balance down to 4-3, giving them more of a voice.

Stakes are particularly high thanks to Democrats’ surprise win in a January special state Senate election, and Walker’s failed effort to block two other special election races from taking place.

This national attention has prompted predictable attacks from both sides.

The Wisconsin Democratic Party has lashed out at Screnock as a tool of Walker’s GOP, criticizing his endorsement by the National Rifle Association and the hundreds of thousands of dollars he’s received from “right-wing special interest groups and the Republican Party.”

Republicans have highlighted the endorsement and donations from Holder’s redistricting group as evidence that Washington, D.C. interests are trying to interfere in Wisconsin’s affairs.

Brandon Scholz, a longtime GOP consultant based in Madison, told TPM in a recent interview that Holder was just trying to “gain a little notoriety” and “get a higher profile in Wisconsin” by involving himself in the race.

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