Four Key Judge Races Coming
Supreme Court Justice Ziegler and three Appeals Court judges running in spring election.
Spring electioneering is coming up and a lot of judges around the state will be on the ballot. If history is any guide, most incumbents will run unopposed and even a few vacant positions will attract just one candidate each.
The primary election is Feb. 21 and the general election is April 4. Candidates can start circulating nomination papers Dec. 1.
One Supreme Court justice, three Court of Appeals judges, and 46 circuit court judges are up for election.
Here is a quick rundown of the Supreme Court and Appeals Court seats coming open and the incumbents.
Annette K. Ziegler — A member of the conservative wing of the court, Ziegler’s major campaign donors in 2007 included Koch Industries ($8,625), the Wisconsin Realtors Association ($8,625), the Wisconsin Builders Association ($8,625), Pfizer ($5,000), and the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors ($5,000), according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. She also received significant “dark money” support from outside groups who spent on her behalf.
Ziegler, a former Washington County Circuit Judge, was elected to the court in 2007. She already has raised more than $200,000 in direct contributions for her 2017 re-election bid.
Court of Appeals (See a map of the court’s districts here)
District 1 — William W. Brash III — Brash’s career was greatly assisted by gubernatorial appointments. After losing a Circuit Court election in 1997, he was appointed to a Milwaukee County Circuit Court seat by Gov. Scott McCallum in 2002. He won election later in 2002, then again in 2008 and 2014. He left his seat when he was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Gov. Scott Walker in October 2015. Brash also has sought appointments to the federal court and federal bankruptcy court.
District 2 — Brian K. Hagedorn — Hagedorn had no experience as a judge before Gov. Scott Walker appointed him to the Appeals Court in 2015. Previous to that, he was Walker’s chief legal counsel. He also worked as an assistant state attorney general and clerked for State Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. In law school, Hagedorn was a member of the Christian Legal Society served as president of the Federalist Society.
District 4 — Paul B. Higginbotham — Higginbotham, the only African-American on the Court of Appeals, has announced he will not seek re-election. Rock County Circuit Judge Michael Fitzpatrick has announced he will seek Higginbotham’s seat. Fitzpatrick has racked up a long list of endorsements, which he has posted on his website here. Fitzgerald was appointed to his seat by Gov. Jim Doyle in 2008 and was elected twice since.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”