Here is the most important election of 2023: Control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The election is April 4, 2023.

The current Court is 4-3, with a Republican majority. A win by Democrats will reverse the balance and be crucial on issues of abortion, gerrymandering, and schools. It is also a chance to reverse the damage done by Republican Scott Walker.

Charlie Sykes writes in The Bulwark, a site established by Never-Trumpers:

The election that the media has dubbed “the most important election nobody’s ever heard of,” is just weeks away, and has already drawn international attention.

The “Stakes are monstrous,” declared Britain’s Guardian. “Wisconsin judicial race is 2023’s key election.”

Voting is under way in an under-the-radar race that could wind up being the most important election in America this year.

The NYT headlined: “2023’s Biggest, Most Unusual Race Centers on Abortion and Democracy.” Within weeks, the Times reported, “Wisconsin will hold an election that carries bigger policy stakes than any other contest in America in 2023.”

The state’s high court now has a 4-3 conservative majority, but one of the conservative members is retiring, which has created an opening for progressives to flip the high court for the first time in decades.

And everything is on the line: from Act 10, which limited public employee collective bargaining rights, to gerrymandering, abortion, and the way presidential elections are decided.

“If you change control of the Supreme Court from relatively conservative to fairly liberal, that will be a big, big change and that would last for quite a while,” said David T. Prosser Jr., a conservative former justice who retired from the court in 2016.

The contest will almost certainly shatter spending records for a judicial election in any state, and could even double the current most expensive race. Wisconsinites are set to be inundated by a barrage of advertising, turning a typically sleepy spring election into the latest marker in the state’s nonstop political season.

The Wapo reports that the election “will have sweeping consequences, as the court in the coming years is likely to decide whether to uphold the state’s near-total ban on abortion. It also could wade into disputes over gerrymandering and the outcome of the next presidential election.”

The Bulwark’s headline also captured the stakes “Wisconsin Supreme Court Race a Test for Democracy.”

On paper, the contest is non-partisan, but nobody even bothers to pretend anymore. Next Tuesday’s free-for-all primary includes four candidates: two progressives: Janet Protasiewicz and Everett Mitchell; and two conservatives: Dan Kelly and Jennifer Dorow.

The conventional wisdom (which is likely correct) is that the primary will set up a contest between left and right. The same conventional wisdom (on both sides of aisle) thinks that Protasiewicz is the strongest progressive candidate, while Dorow — who achieved a sort of media stardom for presiding over a high-profile criminal case — is the most electable conservative. Kelly, who was named to the Court by former Governor Scott Walker at the urging of the Federalist Society, has already lost a statewide election — a rare defeat for an incumbent justice.


But now we get to the strangest twist in this high-stakes story: After decades of ignoring or downplaying crucial judicial elections like this one, Democrats and their allies are very much focused on the Wisconsin contest.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin conservatives have chosen this moment to crack up.

While progressive dollars pour into the state, Republicans have launched a bitter, high-stakes, and often quite personal, civil war that seems designed to take out the candidate who may give them the best chance to hold onto control of the state’s high court…

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