THREAD: Democracy won in Wisconsin tonight. The GOP thought they had this election fully stolen. Trump leaned in personally. But voters, who don't like being suppressed, rose up. Organizers worked magic. Here's the story. (Also: donate! )
Rewind a few months, and the SCOWIS race looked unimaginably different.

The GOP had one huge advantage: incumbency. Scott Walker appointed Dan Kelly to fill a vacancy. Incumbent judges in Wisconsin usually win. On our side? A primary. We wouldn't know our candidate until Feb 18.
Meanwhile, progressives had some structural advantages as well. For one, everyone was sure the Democratic presidential campaign would be competitive. People thought four—maybe six!—Democrats would be crisscrossing Wisconsin before April 7, driving up Dem turnout.
Republicans had been so afraid of the turnout-multiplying impact of a big Democratic presidential field that, during their 2018 lame-duck power grab, they tried to move the date of the presidential primary away from the SCOWIS election. Backed down only bc county clerks rebelled.
You could imagine the scene: Democratic presidential candidates holding mega-rallies across the state, and bringing whoever would become the progressive challenger to Dan Kelly up onstage. A huge advantage against the GOP, which refused to put anyone but Trump on the ballot.
Meanwhile, Democrats would have another advantage: since the spring of 2017, we've been building neighborhood teams in every corner of the state to mobilize volunteers to knock on doors. Neighbor-to-neighbor knocking: our single most powerful tactic. Our edge over the GOP.
Those advantages didn't necessarily spell victory. Every Democrat in Wisconsin bitterly remembered April 2019, when the GOP surged from an 8-point polling deficit in the final week and sparked a 30% surge in R turnout vs 2018, winning by a Sup Ct race by -.5%—just 5,981 votes.
The GOP's WI Supreme Court victory in 2019 came from Republicans identifying Trump supporters who didn't normally vote in spring elections, and turning them out—especially via digital tactics.

And in 2020, Trump himself would be on the ballot. Not good.
Nonetheless, at the @WisDems, we decided to pour everything we had into fighting for the Supreme Court seat. The stakes were massive—for voting rights in Wisconsin in the fall, and for a decade of jurisprudence, including redistricting in 2021.
In fact, we decided to make "Win the spring"—most of all, the Supreme Court race—the first fight in our WISCO plan for the year. You might've seen me tweeting about it last summer and fall.
On February 18, @judgekarofsky won her primary. Our champion was now clear: we'd be fighting for #JillForJustice. A great, deeply inspiring candidate. But only 7 weeks until election day. And most Wisconsinites didn't recognize her name yet.
Meanwhile, right-wing radio had been pumping up Dan Kelly for months and months—and Donald Trump had taken the time to personally endorse Dan Kelly on January 15.

Kelly's campaign office was @WISGOP headquarters. Team Trump was going all-in.
And then, with head-spinning speed, the Democratic primary started to end. By early March, the biggest driver of Democratic turnout in spring elections no longer looked so competitive.
And then COVID-19 spread its wings and blotted out the sky. And the world suddenly became a far darker place.

Everything had changed.
For months, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's neighborhood teams and county parties had been planning three massive weekends of door-knocking. March 21-22. March 27-28. And April 4-7. Dems throughout Wisconsin had those days marked off in their calendars.
The conversations in the office became intense as the scale of what was going to hit us grew clear. Well before public gatherings were canceled, we started furious preparations for a wholesale switch to virtual organizing. Even though, we worried, it would cost us the election.
On March 15, Wisconsin health authorities urged the public to practice social distancing and postpone gatherings larger than 250 people. We went all-virtual immediately. The absentee ballot push began. 26 days until the election. Everything in doubt.
As the election drew closer, the picture grew even more bleak. Thanks to strong fundraising (huge thanks everyone on here making monthly donations!), we'd been able to support Judge Karofsky put up ads introducing herself to the state. But then the GOP attack machine... attacked.
I'm not going to post the whole ad—about an assault on a 5-year-old—because it'll make you sick. But if you look at the small print in this screenshot, you see a reference to a case. When that case was sentenced, Judge Karosfky wasn't the prosecutor—or involved in any way at all.
Meanwhile, we started seeing something else deeply disturbing: the GOP wasn't taking coronavirus seriously. Polls found a majority of Dems were "extremely concerned" about COVID. Most Republicans were "moderately" or "a little" concerned—or not at all.
As coronavirus spread, students were sent home from college campuses. Scott Walker's voter ID law renders student IDs that are more than two years old from being used to vote. Now, students wouldn't able to get new ones. DMVs began to close down as well. COVID voter suppression.
Moreover, in Wisconsin, requesting an absentee ballot requires uploading a photo of your voter ID. Which is ridiculous. Our organizers and volunteers were spending hours on the phone helping people figure out how to upload photos of photo IDs to a web forms. So, we sued.
You might have thought that the GOP would support making it easier for, for example, older voters—often in rural areas with weak internet service—to request absentee ballots. They, after all, were at higher risk from COVID. But no. The GOP intervened in court, in opposition.
On March 24, @GovEvers issued a #SaferAtHome order urging Wisconsinites to curtail any non-essential travel. Three days later, he called for ballots to be mailed to every Wisconsin voter for April 7. Republicans mocked the proposal, calling it a "hoax."
By that time, the @WisDems lawsuit to make absentee voting easier had been consolidated with other lawsuits, including one brought by a group of civil rights & grassroots groups urging the election to be delayed & switched to all-mail—which, we told the judge, we supported.
The federal judge ruled that absentee voters should have six extra days to return their ballots, and that the requirement to get a witness signature should be waived. The election should clearly be postponed, he said—but only the state legislature & governor had that power.
The next day, @GovEvers called on the legislature to delay the election & mail ballots to voters. The GOP refused. He then tried to delay the election using his emergency powers. GOP sued & got state Supreme Court to overrule. Then US Sup Ct killed the 6-day absentee extension.
The succession of losses in the state and Supreme Court felt like a succession of hammer blows. The excruciating feeling of something fundamentally *wrong* happening, before our eyes. An in-person election must not happen. And yet it would.
Republicans were coming in for the kill. The Wisconsin GOP chair flat-out accused Governor Evers of wanting to delay the election in order to "steal" it, out of fear that Dan Kelly was poised to win.
But even as these excruciating events unfolded, other, powerful changes were afoot. For one thing, pro-Karofsky organizers—the extraordinary @wisdems field operation, county parties, & neighborhood teams, and an outstanding array of independent grassroots groups—were at work.
Democratic Party of Wisconsin organizers and volunteers reached out to voters literally millions of times—through texts, phone calls, and social media. They'd patiently teach folks to vote by mail. And steadily, day by day, absentee ballot requests shot up.
Meanwhile, presidential campaigns got involved. @BernieSanders endorsed Jill Karofsky—and engaged his volunteers in calling, texting, and doing social media outreach on her behalf, all focused on absentee voting.
That organizing by Team Sanders made a critical difference. And he wasn't alone. @JoeBiden endorsed Karofsky and urged Wisconsin voters to support her. @ewarren tweeted and emailed her Wisconsin list. @PeteButtigieg and @JulianCastro endorsed as well.
And, perhaps most critically, a backlash was brewing. Voters felt a sense of profound fury that Republicans were willing to put their lives at risk—and the lives of their families—as a political gambit to win an election.
This fury was felt perhaps most keenly by African-American voters in Wisconsin, the majority of whom live in Milwaukee. As droves of poll workers canceled, 97% of Milwaukee's polling locations closed. The GOP knew this was happening as it pushed to keep in-person voting in place.
The profound, palpable sense of injustice—that a group of politicians was willing to threaten people's lives in order to prevent them from voting—was in the air on April 7, alongside coronavirus droplets, as polling places opened across the state.
As America and the world watched Wisconsin in horror—and with admiration for those who braved COVID-19 in order to vote, mixed with rage that they were put in the position of doing so—Trump appears to have watched with satisfaction. Read @jbouie's piece:
And, of course, there was Wisconsin's Assembly speaker, Robin Vos, who told Wisconsin that it was "incredibly safe" to go out and vote on election day—while wearing personal protective gear that could have saved the life of a nurse or doctor.
Wisconsin's GOP liked our in-person election so much that it plans to repeat the process three times this year: for our Congressional special election on May 12; our fall primary on Aug 11; and on November 3.

Tricia Zunker @TriciaforWI is running 5/12:
If you want to make the GOP's plan to hold more in-person elections in Wisconsin backfire even further, a great way to do it is to give to Tricia Zunker's campaign for Congress. She's running to fill the WI-07 seat Sean Duffy resigned, & she's terrific.
But, to go back: in the hours and days after polls closed, the results weren't clear to anyone. News kept rolling in about higher than expected turnout—but turnout seemed high in GOP areas as well as Dem areas. Nobody knew what the margins would look like. Nobody knew who'd win.
And then tonight arrived, and suddenly, the country knew what had happened. The GOP's lethal gambit backfired. And organizing beat suppression. Action grounded in hope triumphed over the deliberate infliction of fear.
I could not be more spectacularly proud of all of the staff at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Truly jaw-dropping work. Especially our executive director, @NellieBme, who is one of earth's greatest organizers, managers, trainers, and fighters. I learn from her every day.
It's impossible to overstate not only the quality and quantity of the work our team and volunteers did—but also its intentionality. I ran for chair on a platform of values: Fight, Include & Respect, and Empower. FIRE. Those values lit up the darkness of this time like starlight.
One of the things I'm most deeply proud of: In this race for Supreme Court, we won not despite our principles, but because of them.
And I'm deeply conscious of, and grateful for, the fact that the we @wisdems, in this fight and always, were just one strand in a whole fabric of people & groups, communities & campaigns—that make up not just the progressive movement, but the soul of a state with progressive DNA.
This victory rested on Jill Karofsky. Campaigns & movements involve many, many people. But winning power away from those who misuse it requires individuals willing to put their names on the line. @JudgeKarofsky is worthy of our thanks, our admiration, and all of everyone's work.
And this fight was the starting gun. We now have six and a half months to stop Trump. The polling puts Wisconsin in a statistical tie. Even if this particular suppression tactic backfired, the mindset that created it will keep trying to find new ones.
Meanwhile, Robin "Incredibly Safe" Vos wants a supermajority in the state legislature. He just needs to win three seats in each chamber to get it. And if he does, he'll be able to re-gerrymander the state in 2021 & lock in extreme-right power until 2032.
In other words, we've completed exactly one of our five fights. This was a far harder-fought battle than anyone anticipated. Elevating Jill Karofsky to the Supreme Court is a terrific outcome by itself. Now it's time to organize, organize, organize—and win some more.
You can follow @benwikler.
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