In a possible sign of momentum for Judge Brian Hagedorn’s campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court, Hagedorn announced on Thursday he had out-fundraised his opponent Judge Lisa Neubauer in the latest campaign finance reporting period.
“Momentum for our campaign continues to build as Wisconsin voters want a justice who will keep politics out of the courtroom and uphold the rule of law,” Hagedorn said in a press release. “We are so grateful for this incredible support, and these funds will be used wisely over the next seven weeks as we run a strong campaign that leads us to victory on April 2.”
Hagedorn, the conservative candidate in the race, raised $217,064.83 in the latest campaign finance reporting period. His opponent Neubauer, the liberal candidate in the race, raised $174,292.10, still a considerable sum. Neubauer still leads in cash-on-hand, $715,581.76 to Hagedorn’s $429,440.48, largely due to a $250,000 loan Neubauer made to her own campaign.
The latest campaign finance reporting period was from January 1, 2019 to February 4, 2019. According to the Hagedorn campaign, the amount they raised in the first campaign finance reporting period of the year is “more than any other Supreme Court candidate raised in the last 10 years during the same period.”
Both Hagedorn and Neubauer currently serve on the 2nd District Court of Appeals. Former Governor Scott Walker appointed Hagedorn to the court in 2015. Neubauer was appointed by former Governor Jim Doyle in 2007.
The election is April 2. There is no February primary, as Hagedorn and Neubauer are the only two candidates running to replace Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is in poor health and retiring. Abrahamson was the long-time liberal leader on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Chief Justice until 2015 following a constitutional amendment to allow the justices to pick their own Chief Justice rather than seniority determining who would hold the office.
With the election of Justice Rebecca Dallet, a liberal, in 2018, conservatives hold a narrow 4-3 majority on the Supreme Court. If conservatives fail to take the Supreme Court seat currently held by Abrahamson, the next election for Supreme Court Justice in 2020 will become even more critical. Justice Dan Kelly, a conservative, will face the voters for the first time on an election day that also happens to fall on the Wisconsin Democratic primary for President of the United States. A competitive Democratic presidential primary could increase liberal voter turnout, boosting liberal hopes of retaking the Wisconsin Supreme Court.