By Collin Roth
Last October, Governor Scott Walker appointed former state and federal prosecutor Nelson Phillips to the bench of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 17. The appointment filled a vacancy left by Judge Fancis Wasliewski and Phillips was chosen among ten applicants for the seat.
With less than four months on the job, Phillips faced challenges in the February 21, primary from Christopher Lipscomb, a fellow applicant whom Phillips beat out in October, and Carolina Stark, a state Administrative Law Judge. And in what was perhaps a surprise outcome to some, Stark edged out Phillips in the extremely low turnout primary (a total of 59,704 votes) that eliminated Lipscomb for the April 3, general election.
Stark won the primary with 35% of the vote edging out Phillips with 33%. Just 1,122 votes separated the top two candidates while Lipscomb took a respectable 31%.
And with just two weeks to go before the April 3, election, challenger Carolina Stark has made her entire campaign about the fact that Phillips is a Scott Walker appointee. According to Left-wing blog Blogging Blue (Zach Wisniewski of Blogging Blue appears to be assisting Stark with her website), Stark posted a short YouTube video (the video is now private) that asserts that she did not apply to fill the vacancy left by Judge Wasliewski because “she did not want to be associated with Governor Walker.”
On the night of her primary victory, Stark said “I won’t bow to influence outside the letter of the law, and I will never accept anything less than a totally independent judiciary.” Of course, reality does not reflect Stark’s rosy rhetoric.
Prominently placed at the top of a list of supporters on Stark’s campaign website are a list of unions and Left-wing organizations:
And a look at the individual endorsements Stark has racked up indicate she is the choice of union leaders, liberal Democrats, and Left-wing activists in Milwaukee County:
- Sen. Lena Taylor (D)
- Sen. Chris Larson (D)
- Rep. Peter Barca (D)
- Rep. Sandy Pasch (D)
- Rep. Jocasta Zamarippa (D)
- Rep. Christine Sinicki (D)
- Rep. Jon Richards (D)
- Rep. Josh Zepnick (D)
- Rep. Fred Kessler (D)
- Ald. Milele Coggs
- Ald. Nik Kovak
- Ald. Robert Bauman
- Ald. Anthony Zielinski
- Jackie Boynton- Treasurer for Sandy Pasch, Founder of the Left-Wing Donor Collaborative of Wisconsin
- Bruce Colburn- SEIU Healthcare
- Sachin Chheda- Chair of Milwaukee Democrats
- Gary Goyke- Disgraced lobbyist and former Democratic State Senator
- Bryan Kennedy- AFT President
- Erik Kirkstein- Political Director of United Wisconsin PAC
- Thad Nation- Democratic consultant
- Peter Rickman- Organizer of Occupy Milwaukee
Carolina Stark wants to win. And she knows that in order to win, she must court the unions and the Left in Milwaukee County. And by making this election about Governor Walker and not about the qualifications to be a Circuit Court judge, Stark of course knows that that is the most effective way to gain this support.
As of late, Wisconsin has seen no shortage of Left-wing judicial activism. From the attacks on Act 10 by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi (later named “Judge of the Year” by the Wisconsin Bar Association), to the trumped up allegations of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that she was placed in a “chokehold” by conservative Justice David Prosser, to Dane County Circuit Court Judge David Flanagan placing an injunction on the Voter ID bill after he signed a recall petition against Governor Walker, liberal judges in Wisconsin have thrown jurisprudence to the wind to further an agenda. And while Stark may prevail in her election, she may be doing more harm to the justice system in Milwaukee County by politicizing her campaign for Circuit Court Judge and casting aside those ideals of impartiality for political gain.
Carolina Stark and Nelson Phillips will face off for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 17 on April 3, 2012.