Tag: non-partisan election

ENDORSEMENT: JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

Early next year, there will be an election to determine who will be elected to the seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that was held by Justice Patrick Crooks prior to his death earlier this month. I whole-heartedly endorse JoAnne Kloppenburg, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge, for the seat.

Since this seat is vacant, but up for election early next year, Republican Governor Scott Walker will appoint someone to the seat, and that individual will serve the remainder of Crooks’s term. Next year’s election is for a full ten-year term, and I am endorsing Kloppenburg for the election to a full ten-year term. I would encourage Walker to appoint Former Wisconsin State Representative Kelda Roys to the Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, but Walker isn’t going to appoint her or anyone else who is not a full-blown right-wing ideologue.

Prior to becoming an appellate court judge, Kloppenburg served as a Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General under both Democratic (Peg Lautenschlager) and Republican (J.B. Van Hollen) state attorneys general, and she now serves as a state appellate court judge in Wisconsin Court of Appeals District IV, which covers 24 counties (map here) in the south-central, southwestern, and central parts of Wisconsin. If elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, she’ll be an impartial interpreter of Wisconsin’s constitution and laws, not a judicial activist of any kind.

Walker will most likely appoint Rebecca Bradley, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals judge from the Milwaukee area, to the vacant seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Bradley was running for the seat prior to Crooks’s death and is still running for the seat. Bradley has earned a reputation as a far-right judicial activist. Bradley was once the president of the Milwaukee chapter of the Federalist Society, an organization of far-right judicial activists who believe in using the courts to implement a far-right political agenda that would cost America millions of jobs and undermine the civil liberties of the American people. Furthermore, Bradley is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA), an organization that, among other things, supports voter suppression schemes designed to keep people from exercising their right to vote.

The third candidate in next year’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race is Joe Donald, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge, who, if elected to Wisconsin’s highest bench, would become the first elected black justice, and second black justice overall, on Wisconsin’s highest bench. While Donald has endorsements from some progressives, most notably Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, he’s accepted campaign cash from Peter Barca, the Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic Leader who supported Scott Walker’s corporate welfare giveaway to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Judges should be as independent as possible from state legislators and other elected officials, not accepting campaign cash from them.

If you’re a Wisconsinite who wants an actual justice who will interpret Wisconsin’s constitution and laws in a non-partisan manner, then vote for JoAnne Kloppenburg next spring! The non-partisan primary, provided that at least three candidates make the ballot (three candidates are currently campaigning for the seat), will be held in February of 2016, and the general election will be held in April of 2016.

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JoAnn Kloppenburg is running for Wisconsin Supreme Court once again

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.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin officials release the party’s own autopsy

A 22-member Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) committee, led by DPW Second Vice-Chairman Jeff Christensen, released its own internal report on the 2014 midterm elections in Wisconsin yesterday. You can read the full report here; it’s a 14-page PDF file.

According to the DPW Administrative Committee, here’s what I’ve interpreted as being the main points in the report:

  • Since 1990, Wisconsin has become an extremely polarized state, with a very strong two-party system and the top-of-the-ticket race in November general elections in Wisconsin having a huge impact on downballot races.
  • The DPW should provide more support to candidates in officially non-partisan local elections in order to build a bench of Democratic candidates for state legislative and statewide elections.
  • The DPW shouldn’t meddle in contested primaries unless it has a very good reason to do so (such as scenarios involving known Republicans/conservatives running in a Democratic primary or a candidate who is clearly unfit for public office running in a Democratic primary).
  • The DPW leadership should explain its proper role in the political process and management of the party more effectively.
  • The Republicans’ message in Wisconsin is to effectively paint the Democrats as the “party of government”, even if Democrats aren’t in power.
  • Democrats should rebut the Republicans’ talking points more effectively.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin have focused too much on attacking Scott Walker and not enough on promoting a positive message of any kind.
  • To use terminology that was used in the report, Democrats in Wisconsin have “played nice in the sandbox”, leading to Democratic candidates who are too defensive.
  • While Democrats should focus heavily on tailoring a positive message to rural voters, both rural and urban voters in Wisconsin regard education, infrastructure, and jobs as three important issues.
  • Election fatigue is becoming a major problem among Democratic activists/volunteers in Wisconsin.
  • In regards to the DPW’s field operations, the DPW should find various ways to optimize voter turnout.
  • Three programs created as part of the “72-county strategy”, regional field organizers, Spring Forward (support for known Democrats running in officially non-partisan local elections in Wisconsin), and Red-to-Blue (support for Democratic state legislative candidates in Republican-leaning or heavily-Republican areas of Wisconsin) should be expanded.
  • The most important point of the report is that “the path to a new progressive era (in Wisconsin) is entirely possible”.

While some of these points are specific to Wisconsin, some of the points also apply to state-level Democratic parties in other states as well.

The report strongly suggested that the DPW should run statewide candidates who can run on a positive, progressive message, as well as relate to both urban and rural voters. However, the report didn’t suggest any potential statewide candidates for future elections in Wisconsin, and there aren’t that many Democrats in Wisconsin who could pull off such a campaign. Lori Compas, who was the recall organizer and Democratic candidate in the 2012 recall attempt against Republican State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, is the first person that comes to mind for me. However, I don’t think that Compas is interested in running for public office again at all. The second person who comes to my mind is Kathleen Vinehout, a state senator from the west-central part of Wisconsin who was the third-place candidate in the 2012 Democratic primary in the gubernatorial recall election. Vinehout nearly ran for governor last year, but injuries sustained in an automobile crash prevented her from running for governor. There’s probably a few others out there as well.

Additionally, while the DPW’s report didn’t touch on any of these points at all, I do have several suggestions of my own:

  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run against income inequality, preferably by using “1% vs. 99%” messaging and supporting ideals such as raising taxes on the wealthy and ending tax breaks and other forms of corporate welfare for businesses.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should run on progressive ideas and values, and, even more importantly, they should explain how progressive policies would benefit all or the vast majority of people.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should stop speaking favorably of Republicans, as well as stop ignoring and criticizing progressives.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin should emphasize restoring local control to counties and municipalities over issues that are best dealt with at the local level.
  • Progressive-minded Democrats in Wisconsin should, as much as possible, distance themselves from fellow Democrats who are opposed to progressive ideals and values on many issues, most notably Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.
  • Democrats in Wisconsin, should, if possible, use the own words of Republican elected officials and candidates against them.

One thing is clear from the DPW’s autopsy: The DPW, in its current state, is one of the weakest state-level Democratic Party organizations in the entire country. A Second Progressive Era in Wisconsin is certainly obtainable, although it’s going to require progressives to hold the DPW leadership accountable to many of the points they made in their own report on the 2014 elections, as well as require Democrats to run progressive candidates who can appeal to a wide coalition of voters.

Five-way primary for Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin on Tuesday

Two days from now, five candidates will be running for two general election spots in the officially non-partisan race for Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin. The candidates are incumbent Paul Soglin and challengers Bridget Maniaci, Scott Resnick, Christopher Daly, and Richard Brown.

Carousel Bayrd, the Vice-Chairwoman of the Dane County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors and one of several hosts of the Madison-area local political talk show A Current Affair on Madison-based community radio station WORT-FM, interviewed all five of the candidates over a three-week period, and I’m including the links to all of Bayrd’s interviews for the convenience of voters in Wisconsin’s second-largest city:

The two candidates with the most votes in Tuesday’s primary will advance to the April 7 general election, even if one candidate gets a majority of the vote in the primary.