Tuesday’s statewide Supreme Court primary will narrow the field from three to two candidates, leaving the contenders to ramp up their efforts to reach state voters before the general election.
The three candidates, incumbent Justice Patience Roggensack, Marquette law professor Ed Fallone and lemon law attorney Vince Megna, will face off Tuesday to fill a single open Supreme Court seat.
According to Brandon Scholz, a Roggensack campaign consultant, the justice’s strengths are her 10 years of experience in the Supreme Court, as well as seven years on the state appeals courts.
Scholz added Roggensack’s experience on the appellate court is especially important, as the Supreme Court receives its cases from these lower courts, giving her a unique experience other justices do not have.
He said Roggensack’s campaign has remained positive throughout the primary race, focusing on her experience on the court. He contrasted this with her opponents’ strategies of attacking Roggensack and tying her into the alleged dysfunctions in the highest court.
“Her challengers, Megna and Fallone, just complain and attack,” Scholz said. “For example, Fallone complains that the court is dysfunctional and doesn’t work well.”
Scholz said those accusations are flawed, as the Supreme Court continues to hear cases and reach decisions without conflict.
Ed Fallone’s spokesperson Nate Schwantes said in an email to The Badger Herald Fallone would change the court system by working for families, rather than special interests.
“All Wisconsin families deserve equal access to justice,” Schwantes said. “We need to level the playing field so that working families have as much access as the special interests. That’s why [Fallone] is running.”
Schwantes said Fallone’s experience as a law professor at Marquette makes him a strong candidate. He said Fallone also had experience at the State Bar and as a leader of a number of nonprofit organizations.
Megna, who has been a consumer rights attorney for 23 years, said he intends to represent ordinary people on the Supreme Court with a “justice for all” perspective he said none of the other candidates have.
A frequent critic of the nonpartisan but “effectively political” nature of the state Supreme Court race, Megna said he thinks the candidates should display their beliefs.
Megna, a Democrat, has posted videos in the past criticizing Gov. Scott Walker for changes to consumer protection laws. Although he has not posted similar videos during the campaign, he said he remains honest about how political the race has become and does not shy away from displaying his affiliations.
“I’m a Democrat running for a seat on the Supreme Court that is a nonpartisan office, but I’m a Democrat, and I’m just being truthful,” Megna said.
On her website, Roggensack lists endorsements from about 100 former judges, including four former Supreme Court justices, along with law enforcement officials and state unions.
Former Sen. Russ Feingold, Democratic leaders, unions, two LGBT groups and an immigrant rights group endorsed Fallone.
Megna’s endorsements include a number of consumer rights advocates and a former Milwaukee County judge.
One of the candidates will be eliminated from the race after Tuesday’s statewide primary. The other two will then face off in the April 2 general election for the High Court seat.