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Bradley will not face re-election competition


Hon. Ann Walsh Bradley

All three appellate seats up for election this April will remain in the incumbents’ hands absent significant write-in campaigns. Following last week’s deadline for filing nomination papers, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley and judges Gregory A. Peterson and Paul B. Higginbotham were not facing any challengers.

Bradley will run unopposed for her second term on the state Supreme Court. During a telephone interview, she expressed surprise that no one turned out to challenge her.

“I had been campaigning around the state pretty vigorously for the past year in anticipation of some opposition — even some last minute opposition,” Bradley said.

Bradley credited her broad base of support from a variety of individuals and groups as one of the reasons for her unchallenged bid for re-election. Her campaign literatures indicates bipartisan support from former governors and first ladies, prominent Democrats and Republicans, members of plaintiff and defense bars, business and labor, as well as law enforcement groups.

“I’ve been fortunate in having support from a wide variety of people and interests,” Bradley observed. “It’s that kind of support that I think is important in a Supreme Court race. It’s important that no one side or no special interest be the focus of a Supreme Court race.”

Although she is running unopposed in the April election, Bradley said she still plans to travel around the state meeting with people and discussing the judicial system.

That’s an activity she has continued during the past 10 years that she has served on the state’s highest court. Last year, she was honored for those activities. Bradley received the American Judicature Society’s “Herbert Harley” Award for her efforts to educate the public about the court system.

Bradley noted that this race will be significantly different from her first Supreme Court race in 1995, which included a five-way primary. She ran against N. Patrick Crooks and Patience D. Roggensack — both now serve as justices on the Supreme Court. Court of Appeals Judge Ted E. Wedemeyer Jr., and Waukesha attorney William A. Pangman also ran for the seat.

“It was a hotly contested race,” Bradley recalled. “Obviously, the caliber of opposition was quite strong because two of those opponents are now serving as my colleagues on the court.”

Last-Minute Bid

On Jan. 3, 2005, former state Rep. John C. Gower made a last-minute declaration of his candidacy for Supreme Court; however, he was unable to come up with the 2,000 signatures necessary to be placed on the April ballot by the Jan. 5 deadline. Gower, a former Republican legislator, runs a law office in Oconto Falls. He did not return a reporter’s call.

Bradley is not the only appellate judge running unopposed. Peterson, from the District III Court of Appeals, and Higginbotham, from the District IV Court of Appeals, also are running unopposed.

Peterson has been on the court of appeals since 1999. Prior to that, he served 16 years as a circuit court judge in Eau Claire. He also spent 10 years in private practice before taking the bench.

Higginbotham was appointed to the court of appeals in 2003. From 1994-2003, he sat on the circuit court bench in Dane County. He also served as a municipal court judge, acting executive director of the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission and as the Dane County Minority Affairs Coordinator. He also spent a few years in private practice and as a staff attorney for Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee.

Circuit Court Challenges

There are eight contested races at the circuit court level. In Dane County, attorney Koua Vang, of the Vang Freedom Firm SC in Madison, is challenging incumbent Judge Richard G. Niess. John B. Selsing, of the Selsing Law Office in Berlin, is challenging Green Lake County Circuit Court Judge W. M. McMonigal.

Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Brad Priebe will face a challenge from Mark McGinnis, of Herrling, Clark, Hartzheim & Siddall Ltd in Appleton. Winnebago County Circuit Court Com-missioner Daniel J. Bissett will challenge Judge Scott C. Woldt for his Branch 2 seat.

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Wisconsin Court System

Candidates also are turning out for several vacant seats on circuit court benches around the state. In Kenosha County, Judge Michael S. Fisher indicated he would not be seeking re-election. Three candidates have jumped into the race for the Branch 4 seat — District Attorney Robert J. Jambois; Anthony Milisauskas, who has his own practice in Kenosha; and Walter W. Stern III, who has a practice in Union Grove.

Langlade County Circuit Court Judge James Jansen indicated he would not run again. Fred W. Kawalski and Jerry D. McCormack, both with practices in Antigo, will be vying for Jansen’s seat.

Michael T. Judge, of Judge & Krzewinski SC in Oconto, and John A. Muraski with Nelson & Schmeling in Green Bay, are running
for the Branch 1 seat on the Oconto County Circuit Court. Judge Larry L. Jeske is not seeking re-election.

Finally, Waushara County District Attorney Guy Dutcher and Joan A. Olson, who has a law office in Wautoma, are vying to see who will succeed Circuit Court Judge Lewis R. Murach.

The spring elections will take place April 5.

Tony Anderson can be reached by email.

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