In a different year, the race would be unencumbered by outside issues, says Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit watchdog group located in Madison, the state capital. But then came the fight over Governor Walker’s bill, which critics say erodes union power in that state but supporters say is needed to shore up the state budget and deal with the big deficit.
“I don’t think there’s any question that [the Supreme Court election] is a referendum on Scott Walker,” Mr. McCabe says. “We’re not used to having Wisconsin Supreme Court elections get national attention. They don’t even have attention in the state.”
Tuesday’s election, McCabe adds, is being seen as an extension of the citizen protests that took place outside the State Capitol starting in mid-February. As 14 state Democrats camped in Illinois to prevent their Republican peers from achieving the quorum needed to pass the bill, Madison streets were filled for weeks with hundreds of thousands of protesters and national media.