Let’s Be Real
Editor’s note - In Wayne Strong’s last column, the quote attributed to UW-Whitewater Vice Chancellor of Student of Affairs, Dr. Thomas Rios should
have read, “Students need to be taught through education and training how to develop the skills that will endure well beyond their college
experience and that will serve them in environments oftentimes more hostile than a campus environment, e.g. the workplace, according to Dr. Rios.”
We regret the error.
The recent Wisconsin State Supreme Court election is yet the latest example of the false pretense under what we refer to as “non-partisan” elections.
Justice Rebecca Bradley’s decisive victory over second time challenger Joanne Kloppenburg on April 5 is a perfect illustration of how partisan these
elections really are. Let’s face it, statewide elections are in no way, shape or form non-partisan. Setting politics aside for just a moment and looking
solely at the qualifications of the two candidates, it is quite clear that Kloppenburg was far more qualified than Bradley. After extensive interviews with
both candidates, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) decided to endorse Kloppenburg based on her 26 years of broad legal
experience, her deep understanding of the law, and her demonstrated ability to be impartial. Kloppenburg has served under both Republican and
Democratic attorneys general.
The results of the WPPA interview are very telling for the simple reason that Kloppenburg was able to demonstrate her extensive knowledge about the
criminal justice system. As a voter, I think that should be an important qualification for any candidate vying for a seat on the state’s highest court.
Kloppenburg was just what was needed to restore some sense of balance to our state supreme court. Her defeat is a major setback for anyone in
Wisconsin who has a serious interest in placing justice and fairness over partisan politics and moving toward repairing the damaged image of the
court and away from the harmful effects of partisanship.
Conversely, when you examine the credentials of Justice Rebecca Bradley, they pale in comparison to those of Kloppenburg. Bradley owes her entire
judicial career to Governor Scott Walker who has appointed her to three different judgeships in the past three years. She has spent the majority of her
career as a private-sector lawyer handling business and other civil issues. And now, thanks to Walker and a rather healthy dose of outside influence,
Bradley has begun serving her first ten-year term as a Wisconsin State Supreme Court justice. Bradley’s campaign outspent Kloppenburg’s by a
substantial margin of four to one. This so-called ‘dark money’ came pouring in to the Bradley campaign from out-of-state special interest groups to the
tune of more than $2.5 million. This compares to Kloppenburg’s puny $710,000.
Aside from the fact that Kloppenburg was clearly the most qualified candidate, new voter ID/suppression laws enacted by the Republican-led state
legislature helped to ensure that a conservative candidate would win the state Supreme Court seat. So appalled by his own party’s underhanded and
dirty politics, former Republican aide Todd Allbaugh quit in disgust over the voter ID law. Allbaugh was quoted as saying that for him the law was “the
last straw” and that was his reason for finally leaving the party. He went on to state that while he was attending a closed Senate Republican Caucus
during the voter ID debate, “a handful of GOP senators were actually giddy about the ramifications and literally singled out the prospects of
suppressing the minority and college student vote.” Quite disturbing to say the least.
What is even more disturbing is that one of the senators allegedly indicated that the voter ID law is about winning elections. And the comments of
Republican U.S. Representative Glenn Grothman really make it quite crystal clear that the real purpose of the voter ID law is not so much to ensure
integrity at the polls, but to prevent minorities and college students from casting their ballots and giving the Republican presidential nominee a
fighting chance at carrying Wisconsin in November. Something, that hasn’t happened since Ronald Reagan did it in 1984.
Potential voters who headed to the polls last Tuesday expecting to exercise their civic duties were turned away for not having the proper ID. If the true
intent of the law is to prevent voter fraud that’s one thing, but it is clear by the public comments made by Grothman that the real purpose of the law is
to suppress votes that would not benefit Republicans. And it is this kind of thinking that has us headed for real disaster both at the state and national
As previously mentioned, Republicans are hoping for the same results for the upcoming presidential election. Democrats have been winning in recent
presidential elections in Wisconsin and Grothman now believes that the voter ID law will make a positive difference for the Republican nominee. We
will see in November whether that’s the case or not, but in the meantime, I think it’s time for a serious discussion about whether or not these Supreme
Court elections are really non-partisan and a renewed call for campaign finance reform as well. It is clear that based on the outside interests that
these elections are indeed partisan. We should just start referring to them as what they are actually are: partisan elections.