Eric Holder is heading to Wisconsin to campaign this week as Democrats there aim to turn a race for state Supreme Court into the next nationalized race after Tuesday’s Pennsylvania special House election.
The election is April 3, and Holder is backing Rebecca Dallet, a Milwaukee County circuit court judge.
Democrats involved with the campaign say that they’re eager for all the help that might come in from afar, and that it was Republicans who went first in nationalizing it through the involvement of the National Rifle Association and other groups behind Dallet’s opponent, Michael Screnock, a Sauk County circuit judge. But they’re hoping that the national conversation around guns and women’s rights boosts support for Dallet in the statewide race. “ "This campaign is about the people of Wisconsin but the outside spending for our opponent has certainly brought additional interest to this race," said Dallet campaign manager Jessica Lovejoy.
They’re touting an internal poll that has Dallet up by 11 points, and insisting she can expand that lead. Dallet is pegging her campaign on standing up to Gov. Scott Walker, who's up for re-election this year, and Screnock pegging his on Dallet being too liberal and activist for the state.
Holder, President Barack Obama's former attorney general, will do three events across Thursday and Friday, in Milwaukee and Madison. There won’t be explicit campaign rallies: instead he’ll do a roundtable discussion with Black Leaders Organizing for Communities on his first stop, then head to the state capital for a Friday discussion on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to talk about activism and engagement in this year’s elections. He’ll finish off the trip with a happy hour with Obama alumni and members of Organizing for Action, the Obama-inspired group his National Democratic Redistricting Committee has partnered with to push the redistricting election efforts.
The visit is on the heels of a lawsuit filed by a non-profit affiliated with the NDRC to try to force Walker to call special elections in two vacant state legislature districts. Walker is fighting the lawsuit, and a hearing is scheduled for March 22.
The NDRC has also identified Wisconsin as one of its target states to focus efforts on redistricting reform in the campaigns into November. But already, it has invested $140,000 into a digital ad program promoting Dallet.
Holder said that his appearances in Wisconsin pull all the threads together, including fighting the voter ID law passed there.
“During my trip, I’m going to be focused on engaging with activists and voters, particularly African-Americans and young people, about the stakes of the upcoming state Supreme Court race and elections that will happen this fall,” Holder said.