Democrats Score a Surprise Win in Wisconsin

Liberal judge Jill Karofsky unseats conservative member of state Supreme Court
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2020 6:21 AM CDT
Updated Apr 14, 2020 6:53 AM CDT
Wisconsin's Controversial Vote Gave Democrats an Upset Win
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky, left, and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, during a candidate's forum for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Karofsky won in an upset.   (John Hart/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File)

(Newser) – Democrats have emerged with a surprise victory out of last week's controversial election. Liberal judge Jill Karofsky easily unseated a conservative member of the state Supreme Court, reports the New York Times. It's the first time in a dozen years that a challenger defeated an incumbent on the high court and only the second time in 50 years, notes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Also pleasing Democrats is that President Trump endorsed the incumbent, Daniel Kelly, three times, including a tweeted plea on Election Day for voters to get out "NOW" and support him. The victory came after Republican lawmakers overcame Democrats' attempts to postpone the election because of the coronavirus and to relax requirements to receive a mail ballot.

"Look, we shouldn’t have had the election on Tuesday," said Karofsky in a video message to supporters Monday. "It was an untenable decision (on whether to vote), but the people of the state of Wisconsin rose up." Conservatives still hold a 4-3 majority on the court, but Karofsky's victory means control will be up for grabs in 2023. The AP calls it a "huge win" for Democrats in a battleground state, but it's not clear what the implications are for the presidential vote later this year. The Times notes that strong turnout and mail voting appear to have helped Democrats, but both Democratic and Republican party officials say the circumstances surrounding last week's vote were so unusual that it might be dangerous to read too much into them. (Read more Wisconsin stories.)

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