Tag Archives: spring election

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wins 3rd term on Wisconsin Supreme Court

Justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will remain the same following the April 7 election, but there likely will be a new chief justice for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley easily defeated Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley, sending her back to the court for a third 10-year term. But voters also approved a constitutional amendment that gives the seven justices the power to decide who will be chief justice, rather than having it go automatically to the most senior member as it has for the past 126 years.

Given that the court is controlled by conservatives, that likely means liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s 19-year tenure as head of the state’s highest court could be ending soon.

Abrahamson, 81, did not return messages seeking comment on the vote. She has served on the court longer than anyone in state history, joining in 1976, and is also the longest-serving chief justice.

Bradley, a close ally of Abrahamson’s, said the court has not discussed how it will move forward once the amendment becomes final. That is likely to happen at an April 29 meeting of the state elections board, which must certify the results before they take effect.

Under the new amendment, the justices have to decide every two years who they want to serve as chief justice. There are no specifics about how that is to be done or when the first decision has to be made.

The chief serves as lead administrator for the state court system, with power to assign judges and justices for cases below the Supreme Court level, designate and assign reserve judges and schedule oral arguments before the high court, among other duties.

Supporters of the change say it’s undemocratic to have the position go automatically to the justice with the most experience.

Only six other states use a similar seniority-based system as Wisconsin, while 22 others have a peer selection process.

Voters approved the amendment by about a 6-point margin, based on unofficial results.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state chamber of commerce, spent at least $600,000 on an effort to get the amendment passed. Liberal advocacy group the Greater Wisconsin Committee worked to defeat both the amendment.

Bradley coasted to victory over Daley, winning by about 16 points based on unofficial results.

Bradley and Abrahamson make up the liberal minority on the court that in recent years has been at the center of the some of the biggest political fights in the state, including upholding Gov. Scott Walker’s law effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers.

Daley described himself as a conservative and he actively courted Republican voters, and accepted donations from the GOP party, in his failed attempt at knocking off Bradley. She argued that Daley was politicizing the race; he said Bradley should be removed because she is at the center of a dysfunctional court.

“I think the message was loud and clear to keep partisan politics out of the judiciary,” Bradley told The Associated Press after her victory. “People in this state want a judiciary that’s nonpartisan. Political parties have agendas.”

Daley issued a statement saying the election showed “first-hand the power of incumbency, as liberal special interests band together to protect their candidate.”

EMERGE-ing for the spring election in Wisconsin

A series of surveys and counts released in recent weeks show that women continue, on average, to earn less than men for comparable work and to be under-represented in corporate corner offices, law firm partnerships, museum exhibits and art shows, Hollywood films, medical studies, IT management posts and, perhaps most notably, elected office.

The Women in Politics Map 2014 released by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and U.N. Women, for example, shows the number of women parliamentarians at a record 21.8 percent. The bright news from the U.N. survey? Women could achieve equal representation in the world’s parliaments in less than 20 years. Just 10 years ago, IPU Secretary-General Anders Johnsson said he didn’t think even his children would see gender parity in parliaments.

In the United States, surveys show that the number of women candidates has plateaued.

But Emerge America, a network in the United States with operations in at least 14 states, including Wisconsin, seeks to expedite gender parity in politics by identifying, training and promoting Democratic women who want to hold elected office.

On April 1, in the spring election, 14 Democratic women from Emerge Wisconsin’s program are on local ballots. They include:

• Julie Allen for Lincoln County Board supervisor.

• Annette Ashley for Middleton-Cross Plaines Area School Board director.

• Carol Beals for Grant County Board supervisor.

• Leah Blough for Kenosha County Board supervisor.

• Carousel Andrea Bayrd, Jenni Dye, Mary Kolar and Pat McPartland for Dane County Board supervisor.

• Julie Jansch for Brown County Board supervisor.

• Tara Johnson for La Crosse County Board supervisor.

• Kimberly Kane for Racine City Council.

• Diana Lawrence for Outagamie County Board supervisor.

• Judy Smriga for Clark County Board supervisor.

• Mary Von Ruden for Monroe County Board supervisor and Sparta City Council.

EW executive director Wendy Strout says this is the second spring election in which the nonprofit saw 14 alumnae make ballots. A 15th Emerge Wisconsin competed in a primary earlier this year, and Emerge Wisconsin alumna Kelly Westlund is making a bid for Congress, seeking to unseat Republican Sean Duffy in the 7th District.

Emerge Wisconsin conducts intensive seven-month training programs. To date, about 56 percent of its alumnae have run for office and 59 percent of those candidates won their races.

“When there’s no parity, there’s lack of diversity,” says Blough, who was born Philippines. She adds, “If someone has something they are passionate about, that they want to change, they should run. You’d be surprised how people will respond.”

One winning Emerge Wisconsin alumna is Johnson, a veteran member of the La Crosse County Board, who encourages progressive women to get involved in local politics.

“It will give you a great understanding of how laws are made, how group-process happens in a political arena, how to do that work and then move up to the Assembly,” says Johnson, a member of the first county board in the state to vote for domestic partnership benefits for county employees.

When Johnson was involved in Emerge training, there were 18 students. “Now there are 25 every year,” she say. “And they know what they want to run for.”

Kane, who completed Emerge Wisconsin training in 2013, says the “experience made me think a lot more deeply about what it took to be a political leader. It also convinced me of the importance of supporting people (who) really do have what it takes.”

On the Web …

Emerge Wisconsin: www.emergewi.org

Wisconsin election information: www.myvote.wi.gov

Save the date …

Emerge Wisconsin holds its second annual Woman of the Year celebration, with honors for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, on June 4. The event takes place at The Grain Exchange, 225 E. Michigan St., Milwaukee.

— L.N.

Photo: Courtesy Emerge Wisconsin

Kimberly Kane, Leah Blough and Tara Johnson