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Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer Announces Bid For State Supreme Court

Neubauer First To Announce In Race To Replace Retiring Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Wisconsin Supreme Court courtroom
Michelle Johnson/WPR

Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer launched a campaign Thursday for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Neubauer is the first candidate to announce a bid to replace outgoing Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Abrahamson announced in May she wouldn’t seek another 10-year term on the court.

Judge Lisa Neubauer. Ingrid Liss/AP Photo

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Abrahamson, 84, was the first woman to sit on the court and has served there for more than 40 years.

Neubauer has been the chief judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals since 2015.

Though seats on the Supreme Court are officially nonpartisan, races for a spot on the bench have become increasingly political in recent years. Neubauer said she won’t identify with a party, because special interests have made Supreme Court races into a “partisan playground.”

“I think it’s a travesty and I think the people of Wisconsin are sick of it, too,” she said. “We need to make sure that our judges and our judiciary is an independent third branch — fair, impartial and unbiased.”

Neubauer was appointed to the court in 2007 by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Her daughter, Greta Neubauer, is a Democratic state representative from Racine.

Other potential candidates include former Gov. Scott Walker attorney and appeals court judge Brian Hagedorn, Democratic Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, and Waukesha County Circuit Judge Maria Lazar.

If other candidates enter the race, a primary will be held in February. The general election will be in April.

The court currently has a 5-2 conservative majority, but that will be trimmed to 4-3 when liberal justice-elect Rebecca Dallet joins the court later this summer.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. Thursday, July 12, 2018, with original reporting from WPR.