Wisconsin’s Republican governor Scott Walker has said his party is at risk of a Democratic wave of wins later this year after a liberal claimed victory in the state’s Supreme Court race.
Rebecca Dallet trounced conservative Michael Screnock in the election for a 10-year term on Wisconsin’s high court, putting more wind in Democrats’ sails ahead of the midterm elections in November.
Donald Trump won Wisconsin by one percentage point in the 2016 presidential election. Ms Dallet, 48, a Milwaukee County circuit judge since 2008 and a former prosecutor, won by double digits. She will replace outgoing conservative Justice Michael Gableman, narrowing the court’s 5-2 conservative majority to 4-3.
Mr Walker, who is up for re-election in November, said the results show Republicans “are at risk of a #BlueWave”.
“Big government special interests flooded Wisconsin with distorted facts & misinformation. Next, they’ll target me and work to undo our bold reforms,” he tweeted. “The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred — we must counter it with optimism & organisation. Let’s share our positive story with voters & win in November.”
The results of this week’s election, as well as a Democratic victory earlier this year in one of Wisconsin’s Republican-leaning districts, indicate that Mr Walker’s party will have to fight hard to maintain its hold on the state.
While Wisconsin’s Supreme Court seats are non-partisan, candidates for a long time have sent hints about their political leanings.
This year’s race was overtly partisan, with an advertisement for Ms Dallet featuring grainy black and white footage of Donald Trump, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. The advert warned voters that their values were under attack.
Those that endorsed her included former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and New Jersey Democratic Senator Cory Booker.
Meanwhile, Mr Screnock, 48, received $300,000 from the Republican Party of Wisconsin. That is the most a political party has ever spent on a Supreme Court candidate in the state’s history, NPR said.
Ms Dallet said her victory was a rejection of the influence special interests have on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.
“The candidate with the most experience in our courts and standing up for the fairness of our courts won,” she said, according to NBC News. “I think 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.”
But Mr Screnock said the race had “tremendous outside influence from liberal special interest groups that were willing to say and spend anything to elect their preferred candidate to the bench.”