Our State's Democracy Hinges on Electing a Fair Supreme Court Justice on the Feb. 21 Primary

Our State's Democracy Hinges on Electing a Fair Supreme Court Justice on the Feb. 21 Primary

Hi Folks,

Last week I wrote about how we might attempt to reverse the disastrous sequence of events that left Wisconsin with the most gerrymandered electoral maps in the country--giving us a polarized and undemocratic Republican state legislature that could care less about the needs of their constituents.

I came to the conclusion, like so many others who follow Wisconsin politics, that our LAST CHANCE to get FAIR MAPS until 2030 was to elect a progressive judge to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 4th, which would change the balance of that court.

But what SO MANY PEOPLE DON’T REALIZE is that in order to elect a progressive judge on April 4th, one of our two candidates has to get through the primary on February 21st—which is not a “given” by any stretch of the imagination.

There are currently four candidates—2 backed by the Republican Party and 2 backed by progressives.

I’ve been told that if the election was held today, the top two conservatives would win because they both have better name recognition than our progressive candidates.


The first conservative judge, Dan Kelly, was appointed by Scott Walker to the Supreme Court in 2016, and then barely lost to a progressive candidate in 2021. He’s been on the ballot before and people remember his name.

The second conservative judge, Jennifer Dorow, was recently in the national spotlight because she presided over the Waukesha Christmas Parade Killer case.

We know that Kelly was in the pocket of Wisconsin Republicans because of his history on the bench, and Dorow’s record as a previous Walker appointee and graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School is equally scary.

There is NO CHANCE we’ll get Fair Maps if these two emerge victorious from the February 21st primary.

What’s even scarier is that we’re hearing that most of the groups in the progressive coalition that got the vote out for Governor Evers’ are planning to sit on their hands before the primary—fearing they’ll alienate the supporters of either of the two progressive judicial candidates.

To me, this is a case of “killing OURSELVES with kindness!”

NOT working hard to get the progressive vote out on February 21st makes NO SENSE to me, because unlike a Democratic primary where at least one Democrat makes it to the general election no matter how many Democrats go to the polls, there’s a very real chance that if progressives forget to vote in this very obscure “non-partisan” primary, we’ll end up without a candidate to support AT ALL.

So that’s why we decided to pick sides EARLY and support Janet Protasiewicz (Pro-tah-say-witz), the clear front-runner among the two progressive candidates, and put up billboards in every progressive enclave of Wisconsin to remind people to vote for her on February 21st.

We just put this huge sign up in Green Bay last Friday. Why Green Bay? Because it’s a progressive enclave in Wisconsin and honestly, it was the best location that we could find before this weekend to show you what we want to do around the state.

My feeling is this. Our first priority should be to make sure every progressive in Wisconsin is reminded to vote in this primary. The second priority should be to coalesce around a frontrunner so as not to split our votes and make sure at least one progressive candidate gets through.

However, that second priority, which can often hurt feelings among like-minded progressive Wisconsinites, might not be totally necessary IF we get A LOT OF PROGRESSIVES to VOTE on Feb. 21, because the turnout for this primary is expected to be dismal and “a rising tide (of progressive votes) will lift all boats” and get a least one of our candidates through.

We'd like to put up 11 signs next week—1 in a bunch of progressive Wisconsin cities (you can see them on the map) and two in Madison and Milwaukee—home to the most progressive voters and our two progressive judicial candidates.

The cost to put up these signs until the primary election on February 21st is $43,740.

That’s a lot of money, but I know it's achievable given what we’ve been able to collectively raise for equally important causes over the last few years.

Now, if we can’t raise that much, all is not lost. We’ll just start by putting signs up in Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee and keep going to other cities until the money runs out.

So that’s what I’m asking you for today. Please CHIP IN HERE to help us get these signs up as soon as possible.

There’s less than 6 weeks until this primary and we think the importance of this election is practically invisible to most progressives, and that’s deeply worrisome.

Thanks for chipping in, and thanks for believing in us. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. But we are NOT AFRAID to stick our necks out early to do what is necessary, even though we sometimes break a little China in the process.

Let’s break some China together and fix Wisconsin, one beer at a time.

Kirk Bangstad
Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC.

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