A handful of Democrats have already declared they are running to be the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States in 2020. We're still over a year and half away from learning the outcome of that contest, and if you thought the group running for the Republican nomination in 2016 was big, just wait until the dust settles on all the Democrats that throw their hat into the ring. Already we have nationally recognized individuals like Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), as well as lesser-known upstart campaigns like South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, Wisconsinites will have an important race on the ballot in April. Control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court hangs in the balance. Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority after Michael Screnock lost to "liberal" justice Rebecca Dallet in 2018. When she was first appointed Justice Abrahamson was the first woman to serve on the court and only woman until 1993. Today, six out of the seven justices are women.
Two candidates are in the race to replace her: conservative Brian Hagedorn and liberal Lisa Neubauer. Both Hagedorn and Neubauer serve on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in District II based out of Waukesha. Hagedorn was appointed by Governor Scott Walker (R) after serving as his chief legal counsel, while Neubauer was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle (D).
You may be wondering why this race is important at all. If Neubauer wins she is only replacing another liberal justice. If Hagedorn wins the court's conservatives will simply increase their majority to 5-2. But this race sets up the showdown for 2020 when conservative justice Dan Kelly is up for election. While a nonpartisan race, both the Republican and Democratic Parties have overtly supported their candidates in the last few years. In April 2020, in addition to the Supreme Court race, Democrats will be voting in the Wisconsin Presidential Primary, while, barring a GOP challenge to President Donald Trump, there will be no Republican Primary to help boost GOP turnout. Republicans have all but conceded the 2020 race already.
So, conservatives feel they must win this year to have a buffer in their majority to withstand a 2020 loss.