April 7 Election Results
One week after election day, Wisconsin spring election results were finally released on April 13. On the ballot on April 7 was the Democratic primary for president, a state Supreme Court seat, and many local races. Turnout was the highest for a spring election since 2016, when there were primaries for both Democrat and Republican presidential nominees.
Democratic primary: Vice President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary for president in Wisconsin. His opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped out on April 8, the day after the Wisconsin election, making Wisconsin the last contested primary of the 2020 primary race. Biden had around 63 percent of the Wisconsin vote, and Sanders had about 32 percent. Biden gained the endorsement of both Sanders and President Barack Obama following his win in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Supreme Court: Liberal Dane County Circuit Court Judge Jill Karofsky beat incumbent conservative Justice Daniel Kelly in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court with about 55 percent of the vote. When she is inaugurated to the bench in August, Karofsky’s addition will move the court from a 5-2 to a 4-3 conservative majority. The next Supreme Court election will not be until Chief Justice Roggensack is up for reelection in 2023.
Constitutional amendment: Voters approved a constitutional amendment on victims’ rights. Known as Marsy’s Law, the constitutional amendment passed the Legislature for the second time in 2019 and now, with voter approval, becomes law. About 75 percent of voters voted in favor of the constitutional amendment.
Milwaukee races: Legislators running for local office had mixed success. Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) beat Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) by a narrow margin in the race for Milwaukee County Executive. Down by only 1,039 votes, Larson ultimately declined to seek a recount. Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) lost to incumbent Mayor Tom Barrett in the Milwaukee mayoral race.
School referenda: Many municipalities had school referenda on their ballots, totaling $1.8 billion in requested additional funding. Referenda passed in most municipalities that proposed them.
Wisconsin’s spring election on April 7 gained national attention as several lawsuits sought to make changes to in person and absentee voting in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the lawsuits were resolved the day before the election, it is expected that there will be more post-election litigation. Already, before election results were released, on April 13 a group of Milwaukee-area residents filed a class action lawsuit against the Legislature and the Wisconsin Elections Commission seeking a partial revote for the April 7 election and election changes for Wisconsin’s remaining elections in 2020. (Plaintiffs’ press release)
Read more about elections and COVID-19 on Hamilton Consulting’s COVID-19 in Wisconsin resources page.