As the campaign for Wisconsin Supreme Court heated up, liberal-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and several liberal organizations raised an issue they thought would easily hand them the election. She argued that her opponent, the conservative Judge Brian Hagedorn, held religious views that are unacceptable for serving in public office. Hagedorn believes in the traditional view of marriage, but does not let his faith interfere in his rulings.
Even though Hagedorn’s Christianity played no role in his rulings as an appeals court judge, criticizing his faith initially seemed successful. Several right-leaning organizations withdrew their support from Hagedorn or avoided his campaign entirely, placing him at a major financial disadvantage. Liberal groups, like Eric Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee and Planned Parenthood, flocked to support Neubauer.
Liberals in Wisconsin were confident of victory. One columnist wrote that Hagedorn’s campaign was “disastrous” and that he’d “have to stage on hell of a comeback to defeat Neubauer.” After the Democrats successfully held Tammy Baldwin’s seat in the Senate and won back the Governor’s Mansion in November 2018, it looked like Neubauer was a shoe-in.
When April 2nd arrived and the results were counted, everyone in Wisconsin was shocked. Neubauer’s early lead soon faded and Hagedorn won the election by a narrow margin of under 6,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast. Neubauer initially said she wanted a recount, but eventually conceded over a week later.
Hagedorn’s victory likely wouldn’t have been possible without how he responded to the attacks on his faith. In an op-ed he wrote, “I remain undaunted by these smears, and I’m not going to back down. I’m running to protect the public and defend the rule of law. Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Hagedorn and his campaign manager, Stephan Thompson, launched a strategy of embracing Christian faith, not distancing from it. Wisconsin is a state founded German and Polish migrants who were mostly Lutheran and Catholic. Religious tradition is strong, with 71% of Wisconsinites affiliated to Christianity. Evangelicals and social conservatives rallied behind Hagedorn. The ads attacking his faith backfired.
Hagedorn won many northern counties in the state by double-digit margins. Northern Wisconsin is known for having many pro-Trump voters. He also won in the very conservative suburban WOW counties bordering Milwaukee, which were crucial for Scott Walker’s three statewide victories. Simultaneously, the liberal base that has handed Democrats recent victories did not turnout to vote.
Brian Hagedorn’s victory in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election has a wider impact across the United States. In recent years, liberals and social justice warriors have been trying to impose religious tests on the judiciary. They see Christian faith as a problem that needs to be eradicated from public office. The United States Supreme Court has ruled same-sex marriage to be constitutional, but that doesn’t mean personal religious views of marriage are banned.
Most Wisconsinites are in favor of gay marriage today, but also aren’t pleased when Christianity is assaulted. In Wisconsin, the voters proved that religion should not disqualify candidates from holding public office. Freedom of religion is preserved for now.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.