Guest Post by Robert Best, Wisconsin Voter Registration Project
Can we win in Wisconsin?
We just did.
In a stunning upset, progressive judge, Jill Karofsky, was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the April 7 state election. She beat conservative Daniel Kelly, a judge appointed by former governor, Scott Walker, super-Trumpster and ringleader of Wisconsin’s voter suppression campaign.
To start with, Judge Karofsky was not supposed to win. Then, capitalizing on the COVID19 pandemic, the Republican-strangled Wisconsin government did everything they could to keep people from voting. They fought Tony Evers, the Democratic governor who ousted Walker from office in 2018, in his efforts to delay the election. They tried to gum up the absentee ballot process. They forced Milwaukee residents to vote in-person at 5 polling places (versus the normal 180), waiting in lines for hours and hours.
Many people, including me, did not give Judge Karofsky a prayer.
She won by over 163,000 votes.
Remember that Trump carried Wisconsin by less than 24,000 votes in 2016. In fact, voting margins for most recent significant Wisconsin elections have been by just a few thousand votes. Evers beat Walker by less than 30,000 votes.
Also, be aware that political experts single Wisconsin out as THE pivotal state in the 2020 presidential election. That’s why the Democrats are holding their convention (hopefully) in Milwaukee.
But, Karofsky’s victory means more than we can just turn out the vote in November. The Wisconsin Republicans are trying to get 234,000 voters, predominantly Democrats in urban areas, purged from the voting rolls before the election. The case will be decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court which is tilted 5-2 in favor of the conservatives.
That just changed to 4-3.
And, one of the conservative justices has been swinging to our side on voter suppression issues.
Do we have a fighting chance to beat the Wisconsin voter-suppression machine, and win in November?
We just got one.
A liberal challenger’s surprise triumph over a Trump-backed incumbent demonstrated strong turnout and vote-by-mail efforts for the Democrats in a key general election state.