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2009 MBA poll favors Abrahamson

A recent poll issued to the more than 2,350 members of the Milwaukee Bar Association asked the question of whether judicial candidates were qualified for the jobs they were seeking.

Despite the fact that Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson was unable to appear at a candidate forum hosted by the MBA on Feb. 4, more than 90 percent of the members who responded said the incumbent is “qualified” for the Supreme Court, compared to less than 25 percent who supported the qualifications of Judge Randy R. Koschnick.

Koschnick’s campaign advisor Seamus Flaherty downplayed the significance of the poll and said a judge’s history on the bench carries more weight.

“These types of qualified or unqualified polls, especially when taken in the midst of election, are kind of notoriously partisan and unreliable,” Flaherty said. “I think case numbers and awards speak a little more reliably to his qualifications than a poll like this.”

Abrahamson’s advisor Heather Colburn said the results are an affirmation of the chief’s widespread recognition in the state.

She noted that Abrahamson’s appeal transcended her absence at the forum.

“Even though people are still learning about her opponent, [Milwaukee attorneys] know who she is and what she stands for,” Colburn said.

In the two contested circuit court races, Attorney Ellen R. Brostrom received more “qualified” votes than her Branch 6 opponent, attorney Christopher R. Lipscomb. Brostrom received 251 “qualified” votes, compared to 156 votes for Lipscomb.

The results in the Branch 15 race were closer. Assistant District Attorney Daniel J. Gabler came out on top with 174 “qualified” votes, narrowly edging out attorney Jonathan D. Watts who received 162 votes. ADA Ronald S. Dague came in third with 79 votes in the “qualified” category.

The MBA received a total of 520 responses from members, though not all respondents expressed opinions on each candidate.

Criteria considerations included integrity, understanding of the law, and communication skills.



  1. Although I support Justice Abrahamson, I agree that this kind of poll is silly. Between the “Yes/No” imbecilic quality of the questions asked to the very low response rate, it provides no useful information. This kind of poll is a true disservice to the circuit court candidates. I would rather see a story on them and the kind of law they practice. In general, we already have too many DAs on the bench and big-firm lawyers rarely make good circuit court judges. Both are out of touch with the reality most lawyers have to deal with. You know, trivial things like getting clients and getting paid.

  2. Judge Koschnick had a very high number of people without opinions, so he obviously doesn’t have a reputation (good or bad) in Milwaukee. Since he is a Jefferson County judge, that makes sense.

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