Democrats scored a significant victory in Wisconsin on Monday night when a liberal challenger upset a Trump-backed incumbent to win a State Supreme Court seat, a down-ballot race that illustrated strong turnout and vote-by-mail efforts in a presidential battleground state.
The victory, by upward of 120,000 votes as of Monday night, came as a shock to Republicans and Democrats alike in Wisconsin, where contests for president, governor and the state’s high court in the last four years have all been decided by about 30,000 votes or less. It followed weeks of Democratic anger over Republicans’ insistence on holding elections amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Wisconsin’s map on Monday night looked like a dream general election result for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee — stronger than typical for Democrats in the suburbs and a respectable showing among the state’s blue-collar white voters in rural counties. But officials from both parties cautioned against overinterpreting the Supreme Court results, given the bizarre circumstances surrounding the high court race.
The challenger for the court seat, Jill Karofsky, ousted the conservative incumbent, Justice Daniel Kelly, in a contest with broad potential implications for voting rights in Wisconsin’s November general election. Justice Kelly became just the second incumbent State Supreme Court justice to be ousted at the polls since 1967. President Trump had boasted that his endorsement of Justice Kelly had unnerved Democrats in the state.
A federal judge had ordered Wisconsin to wait six days before counting the votes cast last Tuesday, giving absentee ballots that were postmarked by election day time to arrive at clerks' offices.Republican state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's insistence on in-person voting led to long lines in Democratic strongholds like Milwaukee, where the city reduced its planned 180 polling places to just five that were open on election day.Vos volunteered as a poll worker in Burlington, appearing in full protective gear — gloves, a mask and a gown — while telling voters that “you are incredibly safe to go out.”Vos and Fitzgerald rejected Evers' request 11 days before the election to mail every voter a ballot, then asked the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court to halt Evers' executive order the day before the election that would have postponed it until June.Though Kelly did not vote, he tweeted his support for the Republican effort to overturn Evers' order.“We can do two things at the same time: maintain the foundations of our democracy while taking reasonable precautions to keep people safe,” he tweeted.Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Wisconsin, acting on behalf of state legislative leaders, successfully appealed to the US Supreme Court a federal judge's decision to extend the deadline for absentee ballots to be returned. The court ruled that ballots must be postmarked by election day on April 7 — even though on the morning of the election, local clerks had not even mailed ballots to more than 11,000 people who had requested them on time.
While Joe Biden thanked the state of Wisconsin for handing him another primary victory, he also took the opportunity to call out the Wisconsin GOP’s bull shit:
During Wisconsin's primary, Biden garnered about twice as many votes as his main rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders. As of 10 p.m., Biden had about 63 percent of the vote, while Sanders had about 31 percent.
In Monday's video, Biden spent most of his three minutes criticizing state lawmakers' decision to not heed Gov. Tony Evers' call to postpone in-person election on April 7.
“Instead, we saw Republicans willing to risk people’s lives for their own political purposes – refusing to work with the governor to find an alternative solution to in-person voting last week,” according to Biden.
“It was more than shameful. It put lives in danger unnecessarily, and I hope no one forgets what the Republicans in the state legislature did come November,” Biden said in the video.
Tonight was victorious but Trump and the GOP aren’t going to quit at trying to suppress voters. We need to be ready. Click here to donate and get involved with Biden’s campaign.