Democrat Jill Karofsky has defeated the incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly for his seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court according to results released Monday, reducing the conservative majority in the court and solidifying another seat for a woman on the bench.
According to Partick Marley for USA Today, Karofsky has “served as the state’s first violence against women resource prosecutor and later oversaw crime victim services for the state Department of Justice. In that role, she helped change the law to make it easier for victims to get restitution and helped change court rules to better protect victims’ privacy, such as by having court documents refer to them by their initials instead of their names.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court vote took place last week despite Governor Tony Evers’ efforts to postpone the vote until at least June in light of COVID-19 closures and distancing measures. According to BBC, “voters braved long queues at a limited number of polling stations where some staff wore hazmat suits.”
Wisconsin was the first state in over a month to hold an in-person primary since the U.S. began to implement stay-at-home orders. Voting turnout was extremely high despite the pandemic. Ben Wikler, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, noted that, “despite the result, the fact that this in-person election took place was a searing loss for Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin has reported over 3,400 positive coronavirus cases and 154 deaths.
“Look, we shouldn’t have had the election on Tuesday,” Karofsky commented following the vote. “It was an untenable decision (on whether to vote), but the people of the state of Wisconsin rose up.”
Justice Kelly’s defeat came as a shock due to his presidential support and the fact that he is only the second incumbent state Supreme Court justice to be voted out of a seat since 1967. However, Kelly did congratulate Karofsky and said that he still plans on working hard for the remainder of his term.
Sources: BBC 4/14; USA Today 4/13