The growing partisan tone of the state Supreme Court race took center stage at a debate Monday night in Madison. The two candidates, incumbent Justice David Prosser and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, faced off in a forum at the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Prosser warned that the millions of dollars being spent by third party groups puts the judiciary at risk. He says the ads could destroy judicial independence and take away the votes of the people of Wisconsin.
Prosser has been subject to ads critical of his time on the bench and that attempt to draw comparisons between him and Republican Governor Scott Walker. Prosser, a former Republican lawmaker, argued he has tried to be in the center during his 12 years on the bench.
Kloppenburg defended the rights of groups to run attack ads, even if the candidates disagree with the content. She says there’s no evidence her campaign has attempted to coordinate with those organizations and their speech is protected. Kloppenburg says the candidates have no control over what those groups put on the air.
Prosser says the campaign is one of the most politicized court races in state history and people are not looking at the qualifications of the candidates. He says the race has become a referendum on the wrong subject and people are supporting his challenger based on the perception that she’ll rule against the policies of the Governor.
Kloppenburg says voters are turning to her because they think she’ll be an independent voice on the court that will help restore integrity.
The two candidates will meet in one more debate before next Tuesday’s election.