Liberal cruises in Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and Dems see hope

Voters in Hudson, Wisc., came to cast a ballot in a special election.
Voters in Hudson, Wisc., came to cast a ballot in a special election for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat on April 3, 2018.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Updated 10:10 a.m. | Posted 6 a.m.

Liberal judge Rebecca Dallet's runaway victory in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race Tuesday cheered Democrats eager for more evidence their party is ready for a winning fall in midterm elections.

Dallet's hammering of conservative judge Michael Screnock also prodded Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who had endorsed Screnock, to warn his fellow Republicans that more losses could be coming.

President Trump won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2016. Dallet, though, beat Screnock by nearly 12 points with unofficial results nearly complete.

Perhaps more surprising, Dallet nearly won western Wisconsin's St. Croix County, a conservative stronghold.

Trump trounced Hillary Clinton in 2016 in St. Croix County, home to Hudson, Wis., winning by 18 percentage points. On Tuesday, however, Dallet lost by less than one-half of a percentage point.

Jim Paulson, 68, left Hudson City Hall after casting his ballot.
As Jim Paulson, 68, left Hudson City Hall after casting his ballot, he said as far as he's concerned every election since Donald Trump won the presidency has boiled down to a referendum on the Trump administration.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

St. Croix County voters who supported Dallet said they hoped her win would send a message.

In Hudson, Jim Paulson said as far as he's concerned, every election since Donald Trump won the presidency has boiled down to a referendum on the Trump administration.

"Since he's been in office we've grown to appreciate what we had when we look at some of his shenanigans," Paulson, 68, said Tuesday as he left Hudson City Hall after casting his ballot. Paulson said he did not vote from Trump.

Steve Anderson, 70, also said he voted for Dallet. Anderson described Trump as "arrogant and incompetent," and said he was happily casting a ballot for the Democrat in the race and symbolically against Trump.

Steve Anderson, 70, said he voted symbolically against Trump.
Steve Anderson, 70, said he voted for Dallet. Anderson described Trump as "arrogant and incompetent," and said he was happily casting a ballot for the Democrat in the race and symbolically against Trump. But Anderson wasn't so sure that Wisconsin's Supreme Court contest amounted to a referendum on Trump or that it could be a bellwether of what's to come in November. "I don't know seriously how all of this small-town, statewide stuff relates to national always, but I think there's some truth to it," Anderson said.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

But Anderson wasn't so sure that Wisconsin's Supreme Court contest amounted to a referendum on Trump or that it could be a bellwether of what's to come in November.

"I don't know seriously how all of this small-town, statewide stuff relates to national" contests, he said, "but I think there's some truth to it."

Jan Rudd voted for Trump in November 2016 and on Tuesday for Screnock, a Sauk County circuit judge. She said she voted conservative "100 percent. And it'll be good."

Erin Nelson would not say how she voted. She's a pastor and didn't feel it would be appropriate to do so given the diversity of opinions in her congregation.

Erin Nelson said she's seen more enthusiasm among Democratic voters.
Erin Nelson would not say how she voted, because she's a pastor and didn't feel it would be appropriate. "I have a lot of people in my congregation who have lots of different opinions," Nelson said. Nelson did say that she thought there was a lot of interest in the Supreme Court race and that it seemed to her that Democrats had an enthusiasm edge on Republicans. "Just as there is a lot of energy in 2010 with the Tea Partiers. I think right now that same thing's happening where there are a lot of people who are upset at the Trump administration." Nelson said.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News

Nelson did say that she thought there was a lot of interest in the Supreme Court race and that it seemed to her that Democrats had an enthusiasm edge on Republicans.

"Just as there is a lot of energy in 2010 with the tea partiers. I think right now that same thing's happening where there are a lot of people who are upset at the Trump administration." Nelson said.

Dallet's victory follows a surprising Democratic win in January in a special election for a state Senate seat held by Republicans for 17 years — an outcome that Walker said then was a "wake-up call" for his party.

The race for a 10-year seat was nonpartisan in name only, with millions in ad spending and public endorsements from the likes of ex-Vice President Joe Biden, former Attorney General Eric Holder and the National Rifle Association.

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