The Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary will be held on Tuesday, February 16. Incumbent Rebecca Bradley, Joseph Donald and Joanne Kloppenburg will face off to determine the top two candidates who will advance to the April 5 general election. The winner of the general election earns a 10 year term to replace Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who died unexpectedly last fall.
The race started off unusually early this year with two candidates, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Joe Donald and State Court of Appeals Judge JoAnn Kloppenburg declaring their candidacies in mid-June. Donald was appointed to the bench in 1996. Judge Kloppenburg was elected to the state court of appeals in 2012.
Following Justice N. Patrick Crooks’ September announcement that he would not be seeking re-election and his untimely passing several days later, a temporary vacancy opened on the state’s highest court. Gov. Scott Walker announced he would take applications to fill the vacancy and appointed Rebecca Bradley to the open position on the court, where she has since been serving.
Bradley announced she would be running for the Supreme Court just days before Justice N. Patrick Crooks announced his retirement. Bradley was appointed to a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judgeship in 2012 and won a re-election to the position in May 2013. Walker again promoted Bradley with an appointment to the First District Court of Appeals in May of 2015.
Donald was appointed to the Milwaukee County judgeship in 1996 by Governor Tommy Thompson and has been re-elected four times. Kloppenburg served for 23 years as an assistant attorney general for the Wisconsin Department of Justice and served on the Wisconsin Court of Appeals after being elected in 2012.
In late October, Madison attorney Claude Covelli entered the race to create a four way primary, however, the Madison area attorney dropped out of the race in December citing his late entry into the race.