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Election Day: Consequential Races Will Be Decided in Two States Today

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

It's Election Day across the country, featuring a range of local and primary contests across the map -- a complete list of which is accessible here.  Some of the school board races could prove interesting, but the top two races to watch might be the city-wide mayoral decision in Chicago, and a statewide Supreme Court choice in Wisconsin.  We've mentioned the Windy City show down previously, pointing out that even though failed Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been ousted by voters, today's runoff could result in an even worse chief executive taking her place.  The runoff pits moderate Democrat Paul Vallas against leftist Brandon Johnson.  Vallas is the relatively conservative choice, campaigning on an anti-crime platform.  Johnson is a paid agitator for the teachers union and a 'defund the police' type, who's been expediently running away from his own words on the subject.  Polls shows a tight race.  In case you're curious about the types of people who've come out of the woodwork to boost Johnson, here's an instructive cross-section:


America's top socialist, one of the most disgraceful race-baiters in the country, and the nation's leading anti-child activist all agree: Let's Go Brandon.  And he's only a very slight underdog; turnout will be essential.  The same is very much true just north of the city of broad shoulders, where voter turnout is everything.  Wisconsin is one of the most closely-divided states in the country, with very few persuadable voters.  Winning in Badgerland is all about mobilizing as many of your tribe's people to cast ballots as possible, then gaining a small edge among the swing voters.  In the recent midterm elections, GOP Sen. Ron Johnson barely squeaked through to re-election over a radical leftist challenger, by a single percentage point, while the incumbent Democratic governor also pulled through by three points.  That's generally the electoral margin window in Wisconsin these days.  There is much at stake in this extremely expensive contest, in which the 'progressive' candidate is vastly outspending her conservative opponent:


Wisconsin voters head to the polls next week in the most expensive election for a state Supreme Court seat in U.S. history, a pointed example of how state courts have become the target of large campaign spending and increasing partisan pressures. The stakes in Tuesday’s technically nonpartisan race are high for both political parties. If Judge Janet Protasiewicz, who currently serves on a lower court and is heavily backed by the Democratic Party, wins the 10-year term, it would give the seven-member court its first liberal majority in recent memory.  Her opponent is Daniel Kelly, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2016 but lost an election in 2020 to retain his seat and has worked as a lawyer for the Republican Party since he left the bench. If he prevails, conservatives would maintain their majority on the court. The prior record for spending on a single state supreme court race was $15 million, which came in a 2004 contest in Illinois, according to New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. This year’s Wisconsin’s race—driven by both an increase in direct candidate donations from political parties and an influx of third-party money—has far surpassed that. It has generated some $33 million in ad spending alone, according to AdImpact, an advertising tracking firm...The Protasiewicz campaign has raised more than $14 million, while the Kelly campaign has raised more than $2.6 million, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit that tracks money in state politics. 

Democrats are trying to frame the race as a referendum on stringent abortion restrictions and redistricting; the conservative candidate is focused on law and order, highlighting his opponent's shockingly soft-on-crime history.  This is quite a track record on the bench.  'Equity' and 'social justice' at work:

Since Republicans' 2016 victories that stunned Democrats, the GOP has struggled statewide in Wisconsin, narrowly losing the gubernatorial race in 2018 and the presidential race in 2020.  Last year was something of a split decision, but the Left's enthusiasm and turnout have been stronger than the Right's, which had generally enjoyed a very slim advantage during the Scott Walker years -- leading into 2016.  We'll see if Democrats can continue their momentum and re-capture an ideological advantage on the state's high court when the votes are tabulated later.  Conservatives cannot sleep on this race.  Polls close at 8pm Central Time.

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