Wisconsin Republicans delivered a surprising upset to Democrats hell-bent on holding a seat on the state Supreme Court – and a hint that the conservative grassroots are awake and mobilized, a good sign leading into the 2020 presidential election.
The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports:
Just weeks ago, Democrats believed their preferred candidate, Judge Lisa Neubauer, was the heavy favorite. Her opponent, Judge Brian Hagedorn, a conservative former aide to ex-Gov. Scott Walker (R), spent nearly the entire race defending himself from attacks over blog posts he wrote that laid out controversial views of gay rights and public religion.
Several prominent groups that usually back conservative judicial candidates distanced themselves from Hagedorn. At the same time, liberal groups pumped more than $3 million into television ads backing Neubauer.
Hagedorn trailed even in internal Republican surveys. One poll conducted by the Republican State Leadership Committee a week before Election Day found Neubauer leading 42 percent to 34 percent.
But voters on Tuesday gave Hagedorn a slim lead of about 5,900 votes, out of almost 1.2 million cast. Hagedorn has declared victory, though the race is so close that Neubauer has the option to request a recount.
Republican strategist Brian Reisinger reflected on the new enthusiasm among the right, “The idea that the conservative grassroots was able to power a victory like this when Hagedorn was outspent by as much as he was for as long as he was, is incredible.”