MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A group founded by former Democratic U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that it is spending $350,000 to help liberal-backed candidate Lisa Neubauer get elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The National Democratic Redistricting Committee and its affiliates have been active in Wisconsin, spending more than $2 million last year to help liberal candidates, including Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet and Democrat Tony Evers, who defeated Republican Scott Walker for governor.
Another Holder affiliate also sued the state last year to force Walker to schedule special elections for open seats in the Legislature.
Neubauer faces fellow state appeals court judge Brian Hagedorn in the April 2 state Supreme Court election. The winner will replace retiring liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson. The court is controlled 4-3 by conservatives. A Neubauer win, coupled with a win by a liberal candidate next year, would flip control of the court.
Holder said his group is giving $350,000 to help Together Wisconsin Acts and Black Leaders Organizing Communities, which are both working to get Neubauer elected. Holder said he also plans to spend two days in Wisconsin next week to “meet with local activists, young people, and people of color.”
Hagedorn’s campaign adviser, Stephan Thompson, said in a statement that “Eric Holder and left wing special interests want to politicize the Supreme Court to accomplish their own agenda.”
Holder’s group has been working at the state level to prevent partisan gerrymandering by Republicans who are in charge of drawing political boundary lines.
Thompson noted that Neubauer has been critical of outside spending on court races in the past.
“Now she’s happy to accept it,” Thompson said. “The key question is, ‘What’s changed?’”
Holder’s announcement came hours after Neubauer released her first television ad of the race. The spot emphasizes endorsements she’s received from more than 330 current and former judges, representing 98 percent of the judges who have endorsed so far.
Neubauer’s spot is running in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau and La Crosse markets. Her campaign says it’s a six-figure buy.
Hagedorn launched his first ad last month, focused on his family’s adoption of a girl addicted to opioids.
Three groups backing Neubauer have spent $229,000 to help her campaign, based on reports filed with the state in the past week. The Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education spent $131,100; For Our Future spent $80,000; and the Center for Popular Democracy Action spent $18,000. The money was for printing literature, door hangers and other expenses related to canvassing for Neubauer, the reports showed.
The conservative group Americans for Prosperity spent $17,300 to help Hagedorn canvas, according to a Feb. 22 filing.
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