DNC Chair Says Judge Karofsky Winning Wisconsin's SC Race Should 'Terrify' Trump Given GOP 'Voter Suppression Efforts'

Democrat Judge Jill Karofsky defeated incumbent conservative Judge Daniel Kelly in the Wisconsin primaries, according to results released Monday, making her the first candidate to receive more votes than an incumbent Wisconsin Supreme Court judge since 2008.

Wisconsin's April elections were mired in controversy as Governor Tony Evers attempted to have the primaries postponed in order to curb the potential threat of community spread coronavirus. However, his executive order of postponement was challenged by state Republicans and dismissed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Voters showed up to polls in person, some wearing protective gear.

Prominent Democrats decried the in-person elections, including former President Barack Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who said in a statement on Tuesday, "People should not be forced to put their lives on the line to vote."

In praising Karofsky's win, National Democratic Committee Chair Tom Perez referred to the failure of Governor Evers' attempts to delay the primary as "voter suppression."

"In the face of unprecedented voter suppression efforts by Republicans, @judgekarofsky has won the Wisconsin Supreme Court race — a result that speaks to Democrats' incredible enthusiasm and should terrify Donald Trump, and every other Wisconsin Republican," National Democratic Committee Chair Tom Perez tweeted Monday.

Newsweek reached out to Governor Evers' office for comment.

In a statement acknowledging her victory, Karofsky said how the election happened was "simply unacceptable."

"Although we were successful in this race, the circumstances under which this election was conducted were simply unacceptable, and raise serious concerns for the future of our democracy," Karofsky said in a statement Monday. "Nobody in this state or in this country should have been forced to choose between their safety and participating in an election. Too many were unable to have their voices heard because they didn't feel safe leaving their home or their absentee ballots weren't counted."

"Wisconsinites showed their resiliency by overcoming many of the barriers created by the legislature and the courts to try and silence voters in this state, but nobody should ever be denied their right to vote," Karofsky added.

tom perez
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez lauded the election of Judge Jill Karofsky to Wisconsin's Supreme Court Monday, calling it a decision that "should terrify Donald Trump." Joe Raedle/Getty

Even after Karofsky's victory, conservatives maintained the majority on Wisconsin's Supreme Court four to three.

Democrats seemed satisfied with Karofsky's win, although the fact that voters had to venture out of their homes to cast their votes was still on their minds.

"Despite the result, the fact that this in-person election took place was a searing loss for Wisconsin," said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler in a Monday statement. "Today's results don't tell us how many people were exposed to coronavirus at polling places, how many were infected, or how many will die. Had justice prevailed, those numbers would have been zero."

While not listed as a member of the Republican Party, Kelly was supported by many GOP members including President Donald Trump.

"Highly respected Justice Daniel Kelly is running for the Supreme Court in the Great State of Wisconsin," Trump tweeted in April. "Justice Kelly has been doing a terrific job upholding the Rule of Law and defending your #2A. Tough on Crime, Loves our Military and our Vets. He has my Complete Endorsement!"

With no Republican opponents, Trump was projected to win the Wisconsin Republican primary.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who was projected to win Wisconsin's Democratic primary, thanked voters in a video statement Monday but said conditions for the election were untenable.

"As grateful as I am for your support and as proud as I am of the commitment and courage shown by so many in Wisconsin," Biden said, "it never should have come to that. No one should ever have to choose between their health and our democracy."

"Instead, we saw Republicans willing to risk people's lives for their own political purposes," Biden continued, "refusing to work with the Governor to find an alternative solution to in-person voting last week."

Biden has expressed his support for voting by mail, a method Trump has spoken out against.

"I think a lot of people cheat with mail-in voting," Trump said at an April news briefing. "I think people should vote with ID, voter ID. I think voter ID is very important. And the reason [Democrats] don't want voter ID is because they intend to cheat."