Tag Archives: Wisconsin Supreme Court

Elect Hagedorn to protect Wisconsin’s conservative revolution

Here is my full column that ran yesterday in the Washington County Daily News.

Wisconsin’s era of conservative reform came to an end with the election of Gov. Tony Evers. With a liberal governor, the conservative majorities in the Legislature are relegated to a rearguard action to defend the magnificent gains made in the last eight years. But the Legislature’s rampart might be flanked if Wisconsin’s liberals are able to seize control of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court. They could do that next year unless Judge Brian Hagedorn is elected to the court this April.

When Scott Walker was elected in 2010, Wisconsin’s liberals made it clear that they could not abide the will of the people and allow conservatives to govern. A familiar pattern emerged: Republicans legally pass conservative legislation into law; liberals sue; Dane County judge invalidates conservative law; after appeals, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns the Dane County judge and allows the law to take hold. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has consistently thwarted the liberals’ attempt to overturn conservative laws through the courts, so the liberals are determined to get the court back under their control.

Right now, four of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Justices are judicial conservatives. That means that they think the role of the court is to strictly interpret the law as written and respect the rights and responsibilities of the other two branches of government to enact the will of the people through legislation. By contrast, three of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court justices are judicial liberals, meaning that they take a more expansive view of the role of the court to enact their own wills to right wrongs, as they define them, with little regard for judicial restraint.

One of those three judicial liberals, Justice Shirley Abrahamson, is retiring and the election this April is to replace her. At first glance, this may appear to be a relatively inconsequential election. The balance of the court is not on the line. If the people of Wisconsin elect a judicial liberal, the balance of the court will remain the same. If the voters elect a judicial conservative, then the judicial conservatives strengthen their majority to a 5-2 split. Without much on the line, why worry, right?

The key is to look to April of 2020. In that election, incumbent Justice Dan Kelly will likely run for reelection. Kelly is one of the judicial conservatives on the court. The challenge for Kelly is that the presidential primary will be on the same ballot. President Donald Trump is unlikely to face a serious primary challenger, so Republican turnout will be light. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for president portends to be hotly contested, so Democratic turnout will likely be massive. That does not bode well for a conservative judicial candidate on the ballot. Kelly faces a steep uphill climb that has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the rest of the ballot.

If Wisconsin’s voters replace Abrahamson with another judicial liberal and retain a 4-3 judicial conservative majority, it is exceedingly likely that the election of April 2020 will flip the court to a judicial liberal majority. If that happens, liberals will sue to overturn every conservative law passed in the previous decade and have the Supreme Court on their side. They cannot turn back the clock through the representative democratic process, so they will turn to the courts instead. Act 10, concealed carry, school choice, the repeal of prevailing wage, the Wisconsin REINS Act, voter ID, right to work, castle doctrine — all of it is at risk if judicial liberals gain control of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.

That is why Wisconsin must elect a judicial conservative to the Supreme Court this April. That judicial conservative is Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn.

Hagedorn has served in a number of legal capacities since graduating from the Northwestern University School of Law. After three years in private practice, he worked as a law clerk for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman before going to work as an assistant attorney general. He worked as Gov. Scott Walker’s chief legal counsel from 2011 to 2015 during the time when many of Wisconsin’s most significant reforms in generations were passed into law. Since 2015, Hagedorn has been serving as a judge on Wisconsin’s Court of Appeals.

Hagedorn’s judicial philosophy is one of restraint and humble respect for the individual rights and the will of the people. As he says, “justices wear neutral robes, not capes.” That is exactly the kind of attitude Wisconsin needs on the court to protect our liberties and uphold constitutional laws that were dutifully passed by the representatives of the people.

Elect Hagedorn to protect Wisconsin’s conservative revolution

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Log on or pick up a copy for the whole thing. Here’s a sample:

The key is to look to April of 2020. In that election, incumbent Justice Dan Kelly will likely run for reelection. Kelly is one of the judicial conservatives on the court.The challenge for Kelly is that the presidential primary will be on the same ballot. President Donald Trump is unlikely to face a serious primary challenger, so Republican turnout will be light. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary for president portends to be hotly contested, so Democratic turnout will likely be massive. That does not bode well for a conservative judicial candidate on the ballot. Kelly faces a steep uphill climb that has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with the rest of the ballot.

If Wisconsin’s voters replace Abrahamson with another judicial liberal and retain a 4-3 judicial conservative majority, it is exceedingly likely that the election of April 2020 will flip the court to a judicial liberal majority. If that happens, liberals will sue to overturn every conservative law passed in the previous decade and have the Supreme Court on their side. They cannot turn back the clock through the representative democratic process, so they will turn to the courts instead. Act 10, concealed carry, school choice, the repeal of prevailing wage, the Wisconsin REINS Act, voter ID, right to work, castle doctrine — all of it is at risk if judicial liberals gain control of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court.

That is why Wisconsin must elect a judicial conservative to the Supreme Court this April. That judicial conservative is Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn.

Screnock and Dallet Move to the General Election


Sauk County Circuit Judge Michael Screnock and Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet advanced out of Tuesday’s primary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


Screnock piled up huge advantages in Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties and also won handily in Kenosha and Jefferson counties. With most of the ballots counted, he had 46% of the vote.

In Milwaukee County, Dallet won over Screnock while Burns trailed badly. Dallet also overwhelmed Burns in his home of Dane County. Statewide, Dallet had 36% to Burns’ 18%.

Good job, Wisconsin. And this election hints that the forecasted Blue Wave may be overstated.

Vote Tomorrow

Tomorrow is election day in Wisconsin!

There are a number of local primaries and referenda on the ballot, but the only statewide race is the primary for the Supreme Court. There are three candidates on the ballot and the top two will move on to the general election. As I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s an easy choice. Judge Scroneck is the only conservative on the ballot, but there’s a real chance he could lose in a low turnout election. GET OUT AND VOTE!

In West Bend, we also have an unnecessary primary for the West Bend School Board. There are two seats up for that board. Originally, five candidates put their hats in the ring, which forces a primary to narrow the field to four candidates. Since then, one of the candidates dropped out, so there are only four viable candidates (no, I don’t know what happens if the candidate who dropped out wins enough votes to go on). Since the primary didn’t mean anything, I haven’t taken the time to speak with the candidates. I’ll do so before the general election and share my thoughts.

Supreme Court Rules on Open Records

 This looks like a good balance.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court, deciding along ideological lines, said Tuesday that a state agency that oversees public employee union recertification elections can delay the release of voter records to prevent voter intimidation.

Government openness advocates warned that the ruling could have a broad impact on the public’s right to know how its government works because it allows records custodians to consider the perceived motivations of requesters when determining whether to release records.

The court’s 5-2 decision overturns a ruling in Dane County Circuit Court that favored Madison Teachers Inc.

MTI sued the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, which in 2015 denied MTI’s requests for lists of teachers who did and did not vote in the annual union recertification election. MTI had sought the records under the state’s open records law, but WERC denied the release of the records during the election because it feared that MTI would use that information to intimidate voters who had not yet voted.


Roggensack wrote that WERC Commissioner James Scott properly balanced the considerations of the state’s open records law with concerns about voter intimidation before deciding not to release voter records during the election.

“Preventing voter intimidation during elections conducted by phone and email, as occurred here, is challenging,” Roggensack wrote. “Given MTI’s repeated requests for the names of those who voted before the election concluded, it is entirely possible that those employees who had not yet voted would become subject to individualized pressure by MTI of a type that MTI could not exert when speaking to all members of the bargaining unit collectively.”

These records are public and should be released, but there is good reason to not release them as an election is in process. This is especially true when it comes to groups that have a history of using intimidation tactics.

Easy choice for Wisconsin Supreme Court

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The passage of time makes it easy to forget how activist and liberal the Wisconsin Supreme Court was a few short years ago. For many years before 2008, the liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court rendered ruling after ruling that eviscerated individual liberty, punished commerce and rewrote laws from the bench.

By 2007, Wisconsin voters had had enough. Wisconsinites elected conservative Justice Annette Ziegler to an open seat, but the liberals on the court still held a 4-3 majority. 2008 was the pivotal year. In that year, the upstart judicial conservative Michael Gableman challenged incumbent liberal Justice Louis Butler and won. This was the first time since 1967 that an incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice had lost a bid for reelection. Gableman’s victory also flipped the court to a conservative majority. Since 2008, Wisconsin voters have elected or reelected judicial conservatives every time except once. Conservatives hold a 5-2 majority on the court.

The conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has been critical in Wisconsin’s conservative reformation. Liberals who failed to win elections and majorities in the legislative or executive branches have routinely run to the courts to advance their agenda. Act 10, right to work, concealed carry, school choice, regulatory reforms, tort reforms, welfare reforms, etc. would all likely have been thwarted by a liberal Supreme Court.

After serving for 10 years, Gableman has chosen to return to private life, thus inviting an open election for the seat. There are three candidates for the seat. On Feb. 20, Wisconsinites will go to the polls to narrow the field to two candidates in the spring primary election. With one judicial conservative, one judicial liberal and one activist liberal, the choice could not be clearer.

Tim Burns is a liberal Madison lawyer who has made his name suing insurance companies. Although the Supreme Court race is nonpartisan, Burns is taking the approach of running as an avowed “progressive” (the chosen moniker of modern socialists) and is unabashed about espousing his political opinions. He also believes that the court should not just interpret laws passed by the other two branches of government, but that the court should intervene to “protect the middle-class economy.” Burns also believes that the court has an “obligation to strive for more than just equality. Progressive courts can ensure equity.”

Burns does not want to just interpret and enforce the laws as written. He wants the Supreme Court to serve as a socialist super-legislature that will reshape our lives in his vision — win Tim Burns making the decisions, of course. Burns is not just the typical judicial liberal. He is a dangerous activist with little regard for representative government or judicial restraint.

Rebecca Dallet is a more traditional judicial liberal. Dallet has been a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge for 10 years after working as an assistance district attorney for Milwaukee County. She is president of the Milwaukee Trial Judges Association and secretary of the Association of Women Lawyers. While Dallet is also an avowed liberal, she advocates a more restrained approach to the bench than Burns.

Dallet’s judicial rulings reveal her liberal approach to justice. As recently uncovered by Right Wisconsin, Dallet sentenced a confessed pedophile to a mere two years in jail saying, “there wasn’t an extreme amount of harm. There wasn’t intercourse” as if a grown man repeatedly fondling the vaginal areas of two elementary school children was not serious enough to warrant a more severe penalty.

Dallet has been at the heart of the liberal criminal justice system in Milwaukee County that has enabled violence and crime to surge. If voters want the rest of Wisconsin to look more like Milwaukee County, then a vote for Dallet would be the way to go.

The third candidate is the only judicial conservative in the race. Judge Michael Screnock has served as a Sauk County Circuit Court judge since 2015, but he has a very well-rounded background with experience in education, the private sector, local government and the legal system. After earning a BS in mathematics from UW-Madison and an MBA with an emphasis in urban economic development, Screnock worked for the cities of Reedsburg, Washburn and Ashland before returning to UW-Madison to earn a law degree. Screnock then worked for Michael Best & Fredrich for nearly 10 years before Gov, Walker appointed him to the Sauk County Circuit Court.

Screnock has a traditionally conservative judicial philosophy rooted in restraint and deference to the other branches of government. Screnock believes that “the role of a judge or justice is to interpret and apply the law, not rewrite the law.” While such a statement seems like traditional common sense, it stands in stark contrast to the judicial philosophies of Burns and Dallet.

Wisconsinites have worked very hard over the last decade to build a conservative Supreme Court majority that upholds the law with humble respect for the role of the court. That work must continue by electing Judge Screnock to the court — first on Feb. 20 and again on April 3.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on Open Meetings

Excellent! There seems to be a trend of school boards trying to do more and more in the dark. We need to be vigilant about pushing that trend back.

MADISON – The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday ruled Appleton school officials violated the open meetings law when they reviewed a freshman reading class behind closed doors.

The unanimous decision by Justice Michael Gableman reversed two lower court rulings. The case now returns to Waupaca Circuit Court for further proceedings.

Lefty Lawyer Announces Run for Wisconsin Supreme Court

It looks like the Democrats have found a candidate early this cycle.

Madison attorney Tim Burns today announced he will run for the state Supreme Court next year, when conservative Justice Michael Gableman would be up for re-election.

Burns, who said his legal practice focuses on challenging insurance companies on behalf of businesses and consumers, said he was inspired to run because he has watched the judiciary’s fairness and impartiality getting chipped away over the last several decades due to judges being aligned with special interests and “radical philosophies.”

I got a kick out of this.

Burns also said he does not plan to self-fund his campaign, saying he disagrees with that approach to running for office.

“It doesn’t comport with my notion of democracy,” he said. “It worries me because it sends a message that only rich folks can be in elected office.”

In true Democrat fashion… he’ll only spend other people’s money on his own ambitions.

Roggensack Reelected Chief Justice of WI Supreme Court


State Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack will continue to serve in that role for another two years.

Justices on the court have voted to keep Roggensack in the position, which she has held since a state constitutional amendment was passed in 2015 that changed the process for naming the chief justice. Prior to the amendment’s passage, the position was held by the most senior member of the state Supreme Court – which is currently Justice Shirley Abrahamson.

This story reminded me of how things used to be when Abrahamson ran the court. Remember how dysfunctional and controversial the court had become? There were stories of bitter fights, open hatred, and it all spilled into the public resulting in vicious campaigns and partisan warfare.

Now? Not so much. The court appears to be running pretty well and people are generally happy with its functioning – as evidenced by the fact that Justice Ziegler just ran for reelection unopposed. What a difference a change in leadership makes.

Liberals Upset at Dems’ Failure to Field a Supreme Court Candidate

The funny thing is that the Supreme Court seats are allegedly non-partisan. The whole article and the liberals interviewed don’t even pretend that to be the case.

After Wisconsin Democrats suffered sweeping defeats up and down the ballot in November, they will offer no challenge to Republican-backed Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler in April.

Some on the left say that’s the fault of a weakened state party infrastructure, while others argue progressives have been intimidated by massive spending from groups on the right.


It’s not the job of the party chair to beg a candidate to run, one Democratic strategist said, but it is the party’s job to make potential candidates feel they would have a chance at winning.

 “The Democratic Party has failed to create the kind of relationship and the kind of party infrastructure that would give confidence to a progressive jurist to run for the state Supreme Court,” said Bryan Kennedy, a likely candidate for DPW chairman. “They can’t look at the Democratic Party and say, ‘I have a partner there.'”

I would point out that in this last election, Clinton and Feingold both way outspent their opponents. But again, that doesn’t fit the narrative that the right is the home of big money and the left is the home of the little people.

Justice Annette Ziegler to Run Unnapposed

Given how contentious supreme court races have been in Wisconsin for the last decade, it is shocking that the liberals didn’t even field a candidate.

Also up for re-election this spring is Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler, who did not draw an opponent by Tuesday’s deadline to file nomination papers for candidacy in the state’s April election. She will be the first Supreme Court candidate since 2006 to run unopposed.

Don’t get me wrong… Justice Ziegler has been a great justice. I supported her the last time she ran and I would support her again 100%… but it’s almost a shame that she is running unopposed. These are important races and the public needs to discuss the court, how it functions, it’s direction, etc. from time to time.

Ah well… congrats to Justice Ziegler on her (almost) reelection.

No Challengers for Wisconsin Supreme Court

I have a hard time believing that the lefties will let Justice Ziegler go unchallenged.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – No one has announced plans to challenge Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Annette Ziegler’s re-election – potentially setting up an uncontested race for a seat on the state’s highest court for the first time since 2006.

The deadline for candidates to file is Jan. 3. But typically challengers to an incumbent justice spread the word privately for months that they’re thinking of running, announce their campaigns and start fundraising well before circulating nomination papers in December.

For example, two candidates announced in June 2015 that they were going to run for a seat that was on the ballot the following April.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Attorney Dan Kelly Tapped for Wisconsin Supreme Court

I thought Walker would go with Gundrum, but this is a good pick.

Attorney Dan Kelly promised Friday his personal and political beliefs will play no role in his rulings as a state Supreme Court justice.

But Gov. Scott Walker cut off any deeper questions about Kelly’s past writings that compared affirmative action to slavery or his opposition to same-sex marriage.

Asked about the writings, which were included in Kelly’s application to replace Justice David Prosser, the attorney said there is a bright line between a judge’s personal beliefs and the role of the courts.

“As soon as we step into the courtroom all of our personal, political and philosophical beliefs take a backseat,” Kelly said. “The primary and only job of a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice is to apply the law as written.”

When a reporter asked a follow-up question about the writings, Walker said the “answer is pretty clear,” adding he doesn’t want an activist on the court from the right or the left. Another reporter attempted to ask Kelly what the writings say about his judicial philosophy. But Walker said the question had already been answered, again stressing his belief about the court’s role.

“I answered it for you,” Walker said. “If you don’t like the answer, that’s fine.”

Kelly, who will join the court after Prosser’s resignation at the end of July, would have to run in 2020 for a full 10-year term on the bench. Walker also stepped in when a reporter tried to ask Kelly if he plans to run in four years.

The guv said he did not ask Kelly about his intentions for 2020, but that his expectation generally is that his judicial appointments will seek to retain the seat.

The notion that justices aren’t supposed to have had opinions on things is fairly silly. Of course he has some opinions about issues. Everybody does. I hope he is a fair judge who rules according to what the law says and not what he thinks it should be. We will all have plenty of time to evaluate his performance before he stands for election (assuming he does).

Court Rules State Law Trumps Milwaukee’s Residency Ordinance


To summarize, first, we hold that Wis. Stat. § 66.0502 precludes the City from enforcing its residency requirement. The Legislature has the power to legislate on matters of local affairs when its enactment uniformly affects every city or every village, notwithstanding the home rule amendment.

List of Supreme Court Finalists Down to Three

This is a pretty good list.

The finalists are 2nd District Appeals Court Judge Mark Gundrum, 3rd District Appeals Court Judge Thomas Hruz and attorney Dan Kelly. Gundrum is a former Republican state lawmaker who served with Walker in the Assembly.

Walker named Hruz to the appeals court in 2014.

Kelly is an attorney who defended Republicans’ 2011 redistricting plan.

Two other semifinalists who did not make Walker’s final list were Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick and Marinette County Circuit Judge James Morrison.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Overturns DPI Law

I think this ruling is largely correct.

Justices Michael Gableman and David Prosser split with their fellow conservative colleagues, siding with the courts two liberal justices to render a 4-3 decision upholding a ruling from 20 years ago that had solidified the state superintendent’s independence as head of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

Gov. Walker signed a law in 2011 that would have given his administration greater power in writing administrative rules on education, a function solely preserved for DPI under this ruling.

Ultimately, the court rejected arguments made by Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to overturn the decision.

While I dislike the concept of a DPI as a Constitutional position in general, it is in our state’s constitution. If we want to change it, we need to revise our Constitution.

Justices Reprimand Justice Abrahamson

Boom. It seems that Abrahamson has become even more bitter and vindictive since being removed as Chief Justice.

Justice Shirley Abrahamson wrote opinions suggesting that Bradley’s decision to participate or not in the decisions without new oral arguments was not a best practice.

She did so again in Thursday’s parental rights case, and that finally triggered a reaction from both Bradley and Chief Justice Patience Roggensack in separate concurring opinions.

“Because Justice Abrahamson has omitted important facts from her separate writings that were well known to her when she personally attacked Justice Rebecca Bradley and because her attacks immediately preceded the election of a justice to our court, it appears that Justice Abrahamson is using the prestige of her judicial office to further private interests,” Roggensack wrote.

She noted that Bradley watched video of the oral argument in tied cases, just like Crooks had when he wasn’t feeling well. And, she said, despite Abrahamson’s repeated suggestion, there is no specific rule about when a new justice can help decide cases, a fact Bradley researched extensively and explained to the court before she helped decide the tied cases.

Prosser retires from state’s highest court

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

In a somewhat unexpected development, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has announced his retirement. He will leave the bench in July. The jostling immediately began to find a suitable replacement.

Prosser has served on the Supreme Court for 18 years. Prior to being on the court, Prosser was a private attorney, district attorney and served for 18 years in the Wisconsin Assembly — including two years as speaker of that body. He was appointed to the bench in 1998 by Gov. Tommy Thompson and was elected twice thereafter.

While Prosser has not publicly stated a reason for his resignation, it is not hard to imagine that at 73 years old and after 44 years of public service, he wants to enjoy many years of well-earned retirement. It is also not hard to imagine that the contentious political climate of the court in the past few years in which Prosser was maliciously maligned made the decision to retire an easy one.

From 1998 to 2011, Prosser served with distinction and was respected by all. When Prosser was appointed, the Wisconsin Supreme Court had a liberal majority with Prosser finding himself on the more moderate side of the bench. He was elected unopposed in 2001 with 99.53 percent of the vote.

The court maintained its liberal majority until 2008, when Justice Michael Gableman defeated liberal incumbent Justice Louis Butler. Since then, Prosser has sat on the more moderate end of the conservative majority of the court. That was enough to draw withering fire from Wisconsin liberals when Prosser ran for re-election in 2011.

Prosser became the first target for Wisconsin’s liberals rebelling against newly elected Gov. Scott Walker. Prosser’s re-election effort was in the first election after Walker came into office and signed the Act 10 reform. Since Prosser was identified with the conservative majority of the court and his defeat would swing the court back to a liberal majority that would strike down Act 10, Wisconsin’s liberals and unions pulled out all the stops to defeat Prosser. They unfairly attacked Prosser and made him a proxy for Walker.

They lost. Prosser won. It was the first defeat for Walker’s opponents in a political war that continues to rage.

Since Prosser’s re-election in 2011, Wisconsin’s voters have continued to strengthen the conservative majority on the court to five of the seven justices. Because of this, Prosser’s retirement will not shift the balance of the court. By law, Prosser’s replacement will be appointed by Walker and will not stand for election until 2020. That is a lot of time for the voters of Wisconsin to get to know Prosser’s replacement and decide whether or not he or she is worthy of election.

The process for the appointment has already begun with several people submitting their names to Walker for consideration and several more expected to do so before the May 19 deadline. Many names being floated are current judges like Wisconsin Court of Appeals judges Mark Gundrum, Thomas Hruz and Brian Hagedorn. Others are judges on lower courts like county judges Randy Kischnick and Jim Troupis.

This will be an incredibly important appointment for Walker. Wisconsin rarely fails to re-elect an incumbent Supreme Court justice with Butler being the only incumbent to lose re-election in the past 48 years. It is fairly likely that whomever Walker appoints will serve on the court until he or she is ready to retire.

Walker is entitled to appoint whomever he chooses and will surely spend an inordinate amount of time considering his choice. He will have time to deeply consider his choice. He should not appoint someone who has run for the court and the voters have already rejected. He should appoint someone who has demonstrated sound judgment. He should appoint someone who is young enough to give many years of service to the court if the voters want it. And most of all, he should appoint someone with a deeply conservative judicial philosophy.

Prosser has served the citizens of Wisconsin for more than two generations in two branches of state government, having stood for election 13 times. He deserves our gratitude and respect for his honorable service. Thank you, Justice Prosser — may you enjoy all that Wisconsin has to offer in your well-earned retirement.

Replacing Prosser

The Capital Times has a list of likely candidates to replace the retiring Justice Prosser. Of those on the list, I like Judge Gundrum the best. He was a good egg in the legislature and has been a solid judge.

Judge Mark Gundrum, Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District II

Gundrum, a former Republican state representative, was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2011. He served in the Assembly from 1999 until he was elected as a trial court judge in Waukesha County Circuit Court in 2010. He reportedly commuted with Walker to Madison during their time in the Legislature. He was featured on the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” for his involvement in creating a criminal justice reform bill after Steven Avery was exonerated for a 1985 crime. WisPolitics has reported that Gundrum will apply. He did not return a call for comment Thursday.

Vote For, Not Against

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here it is:

With only two weeks left until the April 5 election in Wisconsin, we are about to endure a withering political barrage that will not end until that blissful dawn April 6, when all of the presidential politicians, their courtiers and the locustal media move on to the next state. But April 5 is not only the primary election for the presidential nominees, it is also the general election for thousands of local elected offices and for the next justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Those local and state elections tend to have far more impact on our daily lives than the national races.

It is easy to vent one’s spleen at all of the reasons to vote against someone, and there sure are plenty of people to vote against this election season. I prefer to focus on the reasons to vote for someone. There are only three contested elections on my ballot this election. Here is whom I am voting for, and why.

There are four candidates vying for two seats on the West Bend School Board. I will be voting for Randy Marquardt and Ken Schmidt. Marquardt is the only incumbent on the ballot, having first been elected to the school board in 2010, and currently serves as the president of the Board. While I strenuously disagreed with Marquardt regarding the referendum to expand Silverbrook, his accomplishments on the board have been impressive.

Since Marquardt was first elected, the district has managed its facilities so that it is no longer in a constant state of crisis and is, in fact, saving money for the next big building need. The school district has implemented an extremely popular and successful walk-in clinic for employees, begun a charter school, expanded online offerings, added vocational courses and helped guide the district through some tumultuous shifts of educational policy at the state level.

Ken Schmidt is a newcomer to the ballot, but brings a wealth of experience in the community and education. Schmidt is a 36-year resident of the district and is married to a public school teacher. He also served as a member of the Board of Regents for Bethany Lutheran College for 27 years. He espouses a belief in being a good steward of the community’s investment in their schools and wants a systematic review of new curriculum programs and testing regimens to make sure they are improving educational outcomes.

Two candidates are vying for the State Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Rebecca Bradley will be receiving my vote. Bradley was a private attorney for many years before her meteoric rise to the Supreme Court late last year after the untimely death of Justice Patrick Crooks. Having previously served as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge and on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, her rulings were marked by their fairness and strict adherence to what the law is — not what she might think it should be. The fact that her opponents are seeking to smear her with salacious stories instead of attacking her actual performance as a judge is supplemental evidence of the soundness of her judgment. Bradley’s brilliant legal mind and respect for the proper role of a judge makes her the easy choice to keep her seat on the bench.

Both the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries are on the ballot in Wisconsin. I will be voting in the Republican primary and happily voting for Sen. Ted Cruz. The senator from Texas is undeniably one of the most intellectually brilliant candidates to ever appear on the ballot. He was the valedictorian of his high school, graduated cum laude from Princeton, magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, was the editor of the Harvard Law Review, national debating champion, clerked for Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist (from Milwaukee) and had a distinguished legal career before winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 2012 as an insurgent outsider.

Cruz couples his towering intellect with a passionate conservatism that put him at odds with not only the Democrats in the Senate, but with his fellow Republicans whose ideology has slumped to the left. He is ardently anti-abortion, pro-Second Amendment, pro-civil rights, pro-fiscal sanity, pro-Constitution and pro-border security. He has a mastery of the important issues facing our country and a conservative plan to address each of them. Cruz would not only make a great Republican candidate, he would make a great president.

As the election season wears on and the narrative fills up with negativity and filth, it must be remembered that behind all of that blather are some truly impressive people whose service would make our communities, state and nation better. In-person absentee voting began yesterday at your local municipal clerk’s office and election day is on April 5. Get out and vote for someone.