The first debate between Justice Rebecca Bradley and Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg will be held March 15 at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee. The debate is being hosted by Marquette University Law School and WISN TV.
The second debate between the two candidates will be three days later on March 18 at the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus. The Madison debate will be sponsored by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and will be broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio.
A Marquette University Law School poll found the two candidates in a virtual tie after the February 16 primary election. In a poll conducted between February 18 and 21, each candidate received 30 percent support of those polled, with another 31 percent remaining undecided. The poll also reported that over 50 percent of voters were unable to say whether they had favorable or unfavorable views of either of the two candidates.
The two debates come before the April 5 general election in which Bradley and Kloppenburg will square off to replace the seat of Justice N. Patrick Crooks who died unexpectedly in September after announcing his retirement. Following Justice Crooks’ death, Governor Scott Walker appointed Bradley to the vacant seat.
Before her appointment to the state’s highest court, 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 to the First District Court of Appeals in May of 2015. Before serving as a judge, Bradley served as in-house counsel at the software company, RedPrairie Corp. and worked at the law firms Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek and Hinshaw & Culbertson.
Joanne Kloppenburg ran for the Supreme Court in 2011, in which she narrowly lost the race to Justice David Prosser. Kloppenburg went on to be elected to the District 4 Court of Appeals in Madison. Before running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Kloppenburg served as Assistant Attorney General in the environmental protection unit, a position she held since 1989.
Bradley has received the backing of conservative groups, while Kloppenburg has received the support of liberal organizations. Both candidates, however, have argued they are independent and nonpartisan in their interpretation and application of the law.