Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet jumped into the race for state Supreme Court on Thursday, making her the second candidate to seek the seat held by Justice Michael Gableman.
Gableman, a conservative who is wrapping up his first 10-year term on the court, has not said if he will seek re-election. He did not return a call Thursday.
Madison attorney Tim Burns announced last month he is running for the high court. If all three run, a primary will be held in February, with the two who get the most votes moving on to the April general election.
“I have the right experience to return independence and balance to what has become an increasingly partisan Supreme Court,” Dallet said in a statement announcing her run.
Dallet was a prosecutor for 11 years before being elected to the Milwaukee County bench in 2008. She was re-elected in 2014.
Burns’ campaign manager, Amanda Brink, characterized Dallet as a conservative, in part because Dallet has highlighted her work as a prosecutor.
“There will be a clear contrast between her and Tim Burns, who will be talking about his progressive values throughout the campaign,” said Brink.
Dallet said she did not want to be viewed as a conservative or liberal.
“I reject that idea that judges should be put in boxes,” she said in an interview.
She criticized Burns for touting his opposition to Wisconsin’s voter ID law, saying judicial candidates shouldn’t be taking stances on issues that could come before the court.
Dallet said her best day as a judge came in 2014, when she and others presided over the weddings of same-sex couples who rushed to the courthouse after a federal judge ruled Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
In April, Gableman and other conservatives voted 5-2 to reject a proposal from retired jurists that would have required Wisconsin judges and justices to get off cases involving those who support them in campaigns. The vote kept in place a 2010 court rule that says campaign spending, on its own, isn’t enough to force a judge or justice off a case.
Both Burns and Dallet are taking issue with that policy.
“I want a strong recusal rule,” Dallet said. “Right now, what we have is a perception that the court is not fair and impartial.”
The court majority said the proposal it debated in April would have interfered with the constitutional free speech rights of those who run ads and engage in other campaign-like activity.