Trevor Potter Weighs in on Wisconsin's Recent Judicial Election

The Atlantic

How could Democrats win a statewide election that they had seemingly conceded—that they had tried in vain to prevent from even taking place?

That was the question in Wisconsin this morning, after the party celebrated the unlikely ouster of a conservative justice in a crucial race for a seat on the state’s highest court. With former Vice President Joe Biden now the presumptive Democratic nominee, following Senator Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal from the presidential race, the results of the party primary had become moot. The far more consequential race was the judicial election, and Judge Jill Karofsky’s defeat of incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly gave Democrats an important victory—delayed by nearly a week as a deluge of absentee ballots was counted—in what was essentially a trial run for the November election in the closely divided swing state.

. . .

Trevor Potter, a Republican former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, told me this morning that GOP leaders in Wisconsin had made “a tactical mistake” in fostering confusion and chaos in the run-up to the election. “They should learn that chaos is bad,” said Potter, who is also a member of the National Task Force on Election Crises, a group trying to protect the November vote from a range of threats. “It’s bad for their voters just as much as the Democratic voters, maybe in Wisconsin more so.”

He noted that the party’s recent opposition to absentee vote by mail—bolstered by denunciations of the format by President Trump—was perplexing given that it has traditionally been an area of strength for Republicans, and particularly for their base of older voters.

Trevor Potter is also a Member of the Political Law Group at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered.

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