|Rebecca Dallet, a liberal Milwaukee judge, easily defeated conservative Michael Screnock on Tuesday in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, fueling optimism among Democrats for more victories in the fall midterms.
The win in the first statewide general election in the country this year forced Gov. Scott Walker, who endorsed Screnock, to warn his fellow Republicans.
"Tonight's results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI," Walker, who is up for re-election in November, tweeted. "Big government special interests flooded Wisconsin with distorted facts & misinformation. Next, they'll target me and work to undo our bold reforms."
Although the race was viewed by some as a bellwether, results of past Supreme Court elections have not consistently proven to be predictive of what will happen in November. President Donald Trump won the state by less than 1 percentage point in 2016, while Dallet thumped Screnock by double digits.
She won by a nearly 12-point margin with 87 percent of precincts reporting, based on unofficial results.
The race for a 10-year seat was nonpartisan in name only, with millions in ad spending and public endorsements from the likes of Joe Biden, Eric Holder and the National Rifle Association.
Dallet said her victory, which Democrats quickly seized on as another sign of momentum, was a rejection of special interest influence on Wisconsin's Supreme Court.
"The candidate with the most experience in our courts and standing up for the fairness of our courts won," she 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."
Screnock said he was proud of his campaign, in the face of "tremendous outside influence from liberal special interest groups that were willing to say and spend anything to elect their preferred candidate to the bench."
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairwoman Martha Laning said the win was a warning shot to Walker, calling it a "huge loss" for him because his "endorsement, philosophy and politics were on the ballot."
One of the Democratic challengers to Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, immediately tried to raise money off the Dallet win. Randy Bryce called the Dallet win "a rallying cry for working folks."
Screnock, a Sauk County circuit judge, was endorsed by Walker and backed by about $400,000 from the state GOP.