You may remember Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge JoAnn Kloppenburg, then a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General, from the contentious 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court race, where she narrowly lost to conservative incumbent David “The Choker” Prosser by a few thousand votes in a race that featured an infamous vote-counting snafu in Waukesha County, the most populous right-wing stronghold in Wisconsin.
Well, she’s back! Kloppenburg is making another run for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, who is the lone moderate on Wisconsin’s highest bench. Here’s her campaign announcement video.
There are going to be three main differences between Kloppenburg’s 2011 campaign and her 2016 campaign:
- In 2011, Kloppenburg ran against David Prosser, an ultra-conservative state supreme court justice who is a controversial figure in Wisconsin politics. This time, she’s running for the seat currently held by Patrick Crooks, who, while technically a Republican, has generally sided against the conservative majority on the constitutional crisis involving the Wisconsin Constitution amendment that gives the justices on Wisconsin’s highest bench to power to vote for one of their own to be chief justice. The amendment is currently subject to an ongoing lawsuit involving a dispute over when the amendment is supposed to go into effect. It’s not clear as to whether or not Crooks will run for re-election at this time, and Crooks’s campaign has not commented on Kloppenburg entering the race that I’m aware of.
- In 2011, due to the union-busting Act 10 having been enacted not too long before the supreme court race that year, there was far higher turnout than what would normally be seen for a state supreme court race in Wisconsin. This year, turnout is probably going to be either at the level of what would be expected for a supreme court race in Wisconsin (typically about one-third of that of a midterm election in Wisconsin) or somewhat higher, depending on whether or not one or both major parties has a serious nomination contest for president ongoing by April of next year. I’m guessing that the 2016 presidential primaries in Wisconsin will be held in April, although the Republicans who control Wisconsin’s state government may move the primaries up to February to try to give Scott Walker a better chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination, but there’s nothing confirmed about that at this time.
- Kloppenburg’s potential opponents include incumbent justice Patrick Crooks, Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge Joe Donald, Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge Rebecca Bradley, and Former Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. I know very little about Donald, other than the fact that he was originally appointed to the Milwaukee County bench by Former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, and the fact he’s been praised by Ed Fallone, the Marquette University professor who ran for state supreme court in 2013 on a progressive message and platform (losing to conservative incumbent Pat Roggensack, who is now the acting chief justice of the court pending the lawsuit regarding the chief justice amendment that I explained above). Van Hollen and Bradley are right-wing judicial activists, especially Bradley, who has known ties to far-right judicial activist groups like the Federalist Society and has donated money to Scott Walker’s gubernatorial campaigns. Donald is all but certain to run; I’m not sure if Van Hollen and/or Bradley are interested in running or not.
I am not endorsing a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court at this time, but I may do so at some point before the spring 2016 elections in Wisconsin.