By Ariele Vaccaro
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was able to turn in early this past Tuesday evening. After polls closed, the incumbent gained an early lead against her opponent, Rock County Circuit Court Judge James Daley for a seat on Wisconsin’s high court.
By 10 p.m., Bradley announced her victory. With 63 percent of precincts reporting, she led the race by 16 percent, with 58 percent. Daley held 42 percent. Those numbers would stay the same as the remainder of the votes were counted.
For Bradley, the win shows her voters’ desire for a bipartisan state Supreme Court.
“We sent a message loudly and clearly throughout the state that we want our judicial campaigns and our courtrooms to be free of partisan politics,” said Bradley to supporters at her election night party in Madison.
During her third term, she said voters can expect her to be “ever vigilant” in keeping political influence from the judiciary.
Daley campaigned openly with affiliations to the Republican Party. In a statement following the election, Daley offered his congratulations to Bradley as well as his thoughts on her own campaign.
“Tonight we witnessed first-hand the power of incumbency, as liberal special interests band together to protect their candidate,” Daley said. The circuit court judge held a post-election event in Janesville, a city in Rock County.
Bradley will now serve her third 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She is wife to attorney Mark J. Bradley and a mother to four children. The family currently resides in Wausau.
The justice did not see everything she hoped to in this election, however. On the same night the Bradley won her next term, voters approved a referendum that changes the state constitution to allow Supreme Court justices to choose the chief justice. Presently, the justice with most seniority is Chief.
The constitutional amendment was approved, with 53 percent of voters choosing “yes” and 47 percent choosing “no”.
As Bradley sees it, the referendum is an effort to unseat Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who — along with Bradley — is largely known as a more liberal justice. Currently, the Supreme Court is occupied predominantly by justices known for conservatism. The seven-member court is officially nonpartisan.
The referendum was approved with 53 percent of voters choosing “yes” and 47 percent choosing “no”.