Liberal Rebecca Dallet says her victory in Wisconsin's Supreme Court race over conservative Michael Screnock shows that voters are tired of special interests and want to have a "fair and independent court."
Dallet tells The Associated Press that her win shows "people are tired of what's been going on in our state in terms of the money coming in to buy these elections and people spoke out tonight."
Dallet's victory cuts conservative control of the state's highest court from 5-2 to 4-3. She also becomes the sixth woman on the seven-member court.
Her victory marks the first time since 1995 that a liberal candidate for Supreme Court won in a race where the seat is open.
Conservative Justice Michael Gableman did not seek a second 10-year term.
Wisconsin's high court has become notably partisan in recent years even though it's nonpartisan in name, and this race is seen as the latest bellwether of voter attitudes ahead of the November election.
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker is warning of a possible Democratic wave in November, tweeting that the results show "we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI." Walker is up for re-election to a third term in November.
Dallet, a Milwaukee County judge, drew strong Democratic support including an endorsement from former Vice President Joe Biden. She was also supported by labor and teacher unions and most of the state's judges.
Screnock, a Sauk County judge appointed and endorsed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, had the backing of the National Rifle Association and the Wisconsin Republican Party.
Screnock told the crowd at his election watch party he was unable to get in touch with Dallet to congratulate her on her win. He issued this statement:
I am proud to have run a campaign that remained focused on my judicial philosophy and my experience in spite of tremendous outside influence from liberal special interest groups that were willing to say and spend anything to elect their preferred candidate to the bench. This campaign was never about me or my desire to be a Supreme Court Justice. It was about serving the people of Wisconsin by upholding the rule of law and respecting the Constitution and the separation of powers. I wish Judge Dallet well, and I sincerely hope she serves us well on the court.
Democratic groups were quick to brand the win for Dallet a defeat for Republican Gov. Scott Walker and others in the GOP. Walker had endorsed Screnock.
Democratic National Committee Chair issued a statement:
Scott Walker’s record of denying Wisconsinites health care, gutting public schools, and neglecting critical infrastructure issues is toxic for Republican candidates right now. That’s why Republicans worked so hard to prop up an unqualified candidate who is best known for defending Walker’s efforts to gerrymander legislative districts and strip collective bargaining rights from working people. It’s also why it took three judicial orders for Walker to stop hiding from voters and hold special elections in Senate District 1 and Assembly District 42.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin wrote, "This election comes just months after a shocking Republican defeat in a special election for Wisconsin State Senate where the Democratic candidate won by 10 points in a district that went 17 points for President Donald Trump in 2016. After the loss, Walker posted an unhinged Tweetstorm, declaring that the results were a 'WAKE UP CALL' for Republicans."
Progressive group One Wisconsin Now issued a one-line statement: "Scott Walker, you hear that WAKE UP CALL?"