By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Rock County Circuit Judge Jim Daley plans to announce his candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Monday, making him an early challenger to incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley in the race to be decided next year.
The announcement comes as voters are focused not on the Supreme Court election but on Gov. Scott Walker’s re-election bid. Walker faces Democrat Mary Burke in 11 days.
The Supreme Court election isn’t until April 7, with a Feb. 17 primary if more than two candidates run.
Daley spokesman Brit Schiel said on Friday that the judge was announcing now because he wanted to get an early start. He registered a campaign committee on Aug. 11, but petitions to get on the ballot can’t be circulated until Dec. 1. They are due Jan. 6.
Justices serve 10-year terms on the seven-member Supreme Court. Bradley was first elected in 1995 and re-elected in 2005. She is considered to be a liberal-leaning judge, frequently siding with Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Conservatives have a four-judge majority on the court, with Justice Patrick Crooks considered a swing vote.
“I look forward to the campaign and will make a formal announcement after the Nov. 4 election,” Bradley told The Associated Press on Friday. Bradley registered her campaign committee on Sept. 3.
The Supreme Court election is officially nonpartisan, but in recent years conservative and liberal interests have spent heavily to support and oppose candidates.
Ed Fallone, a Marquette law professor who ran unsuccessful for the state Supreme Court in 2013, said he wasn’t surprised that Daley was announcing so soon, given how much money will need to be raised. Fallone said he thinks each candidate will need about $1 million, although outside groups are likely to pour in millions more.
Fallone did not think that Daley was getting in now to scare off any potential challengers.
“I would speculate that there’s already been a vetting and jockeying that’s taken place behind the scenes,” Fallone said.
Daley was appointed to the circuit court in 1989 by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson. He previously served four years as Rock County district attorney.
According to the Government Accountability Board’s website, Justice Pat Roggensack’s campaign gave Daley’s campaign $1,000 on Dec. 19, when Daley was running unopposed to retain his seat in Rock County.
— Wisconsin Law Journal staff writer Eric Heisig also contributed to this report.