Ok, the election break is over. Time to get to the next election, take a deep breath......wait don't click out yet.
There are some important upcoming elections that already are taking shape and we have heard some early news already.
In April of 2009 Wisconsin will see two very important statewide elections. The one most of us will be tuned into will be the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court. This race started even before the Presidential Elections were completed. It will pit the most liberal and longest serving member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Shirley Abrahamson vs. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Randy Koschnick. No other candidates have announced yet. It seems that Koschnick will be the conservative backed candidate based on early support from Milwaukee Metro Exurb Circuit Court Judges and the law enforcement community.
Abrahamson serves as the Chief Justice of a court that has turned rapidly conservative in political ideology over the past 10 years. The conservative leaning justices; David Prosser, Pat Roggensack, Annette Ziegler & recently elected Justice Gableman have tilted the court to the coservative ideology. While Abrahamson and Bradley are the liberals on the court. Justice Crooks is pretty centrist, even though he was elected by and with the conservative voters financial support and backing.
Abrahamson has been preparing for the fight of her judicial life and sent fundraising letters requesting funds months prior to Koshnick's recent announcement. This battle royale has been in the horizon for quite some time. It will decide whether the conservative justices solidify a strong conservative court until Justice Prosser is up for re-election in 2011. Watch this race to be even wilder than the Gableman/Butler race this past April. It will be the most watched race statewide this spring and should have wild and crazy ads on both ends of the spectrum. I would normally say that Koschnick would have an excellent shot at winning this election and besting the liberal "time to go now" Chief Justice Abrahamson. The next race I am going to talk about might make that excellent chance turn into a big fat defeat.
The other race to watch is the Superintendent of Public Instruction Race. The public schools czar of the state. This seat was hotly contested in 1997 when the conservatives had a nail biter chance of controlling the usually liberally held position. In the 1997 election the conservative Linda Cross had a catchy apple slogan and message that almost put her in the Superintendent's chair when she lost to then Sup.Benson. Cross lost her 2nd bid for the seat against then Madison School Board Chairwoman Libby Burmaster in 2001. In 2005 the moderate wing of the right side of the spectrum gave it a shot by running well known Oshkosh State Rep.Gregg Underheim who was defeated by a comfortable margin by Burmaster.
This year Burmaster has decided to retire, her hand picked successor Tony Evers who serves as her deputy and is likely to be a 'puppy dog' to the teacher union and will most likely get strong support from the liberal establishment. The teacher unions fear nothing more than a conservative at the public school helm. What worries the unions is that the public schools might actually improve under the leadership of a conservative. This is not an option for the teachers union who continue to have unrealistic expectations as to the future of the public school system and want someone in office that will bend over for every demand they have. Watch the unions organize swiftly to protect the position.
Van Mobley a Concordia Economics and History Professor has joined the race and will most likely be backed by the Taxpayer Protection Groups and Associations and traditional conservatives. He seems to be very qualified and level headed. I personally think Wisconsin is in dire need of a level head that isn't beholden to the unions so that we can finally fix our failing public school districts, while keeping our current public school districts strong without devastating the local property taxpayers.
Usually the Liberals do very well at protecting seats like Superintendent of Public Instruction. The heavy union involvement should give Chief Justice Abrahamson a big boost that she would have not normally had. I think both races could potentially be very close depending how both sides perform at raising money. I would say both sides are doing fairly well at this point getting out the message to the local politicos. If there was no race for Superintendent this year many might say that Abrahamson would be most likely investing in tissue paper to wipe her tears from her face. I think the fact that both seats are up at the same time make 2009 another hard fought tough election cycle of conservative versus liberal. It will be fun and interesting !