Wisconsin's GOP governor warns of 'Blue Wave' as liberal wins court seat

With a liberal judge from Milwaukee winning Wisconsin's Supreme Court election Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, warned in a series of tweets that a "Blue Wave" fueled by "outside special interest money" could hit the state in November.

Walker warned that wins by Democrats could jeopardize the state's low unemployment rate, balanced budgets and $8 billion in tax cuts.

"Big government special interests flooded Wisconsin with distorted facts & misinformation," Walker tweeted. "Next, they'll target me and work to undo our bold reforms." Walker is seeking a third term in November.

"Big government special interests flooded Wisconsin with distorted facts & misinformation. Next, they'll target me and work to undo our bold reforms."

— Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

On Tuesday, Judge Rebecca Dallet of Milwaukee easily defeated another circuit judge, Michael Screnock, for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Dallet, 48, will become the sixth woman on the court. And because she is viewed as liberal, her victory is expected to narrow the conservatives' control of the court to 4-3 from the current 5-2.

Running with a tough-on-crime message, Dallet won by nearly a 12-point margin with nearly all precincts reporting, over the conservative Screnock, 48, in the first statewide general election in the country this year.

Dallet has been a Milwaukee County circuit judge since 2008 and prior to that was a prosecutor for more than a decade. She criticized the justices for not adopting a recusal rule forcing them to step down from cases involving large campaign donors.

“The candidate with the most experience in our courts and standing up for the fairness of our courts won,” Dallet said. “I think people are tired of what’s been going on in our state in terms of the money coming in to buy these elections and people spoke out tonight.”

Dallet said via Twitter that she wanted to serve her state in a big way and show her daughters that "it’s important to fight with everything we have."

Wisconsin's highest court will now have the highest representation by women. Only Washington state has that many women on its high court, in percentage terms, as Wisconsin's court has seven seats while Washington's has nine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing the University of Minnesota's Smart Politics.

Dallet’s victory was also the first time a liberal candidate won a race for an open seat on the court since 1995. Dallet will serve a 10-year term, replacing conservative Justice Michael Gableman, who did not seek re-election.

Her win fueled optimism among Democrats for more victories in the fall midterms, as Randy Bryce, Democratic challenger to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, called her win “a rallying cry for working folks.”

Screnock was appointed judge by Walker in 2015. Before that, Screnock was part of a team that defended Walker’s Act 10 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.

The expensive race was nonpartisan in name only, with reportedly over $2 million in ad spending.

Several voters in the state said they were motivated to vote against Screnock because of his NRA support.

“I don’t want to support anyone who’s backed by the NRA right now,” said Phil Ouellette, 59, who works in advertising.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.