Out-spent and out-hustled, Wisconsin conservatives suffered a crushing loss this month when a liberal won a seat on the state Supreme Court.
The defeat has some Republicans calling the results “tainted.”
About a month before the April 4 election, conservative activists became aware of an online left-wing get-out-the-vote project that was drumming up votes for the progressive candidate in exchange for gift cards.
By that time, it was too late. The gift card ploy went on to play its small part in boosting Democrat turnout.
Historically, the higher the voter turnout in Democrat strongholds the better the chance of victory for progressive candidates.
To accomplish this, Democrats have created innovative ways of using public information to digitally keep close track of the status of absentee ballots and then shepherd their voters into mailing them in.
In some states, Democrats also send out workers to collect absentee ballots as a service to their voters in a process called “ballot harvesting.”
Fight Fire with Fire?
The techniques have proven to be effective in recent elections across the country, causing debate among some Republicans over adopting the controversial campaign method themselves.
Democrats consider the gift card practice a legitimate paid canvassing tactic.
Republicans equate it to buying votes.
When the votes were counted, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal, handily beat conservative Daniel Kelly 55.5 percent to 44.5 percent in a non-partisan contest to replace a soon-to-retire conservative justice.
When Protasiewicz begins her 10-year term in July, she will give progressives a four-to-three majority on the state’s highest court.
GOP Files Ethics Complaint
In early March, Jordan Moskowitz, a qualified elector from Madison with ties to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, filed a complaint with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission against non-profit Wisconsin Takes Action and the Organizing Empowerment PAC for failing to register as a political action committee.
The respondents answered that they are operating within the law.
The complaint contained a link to a Zoom call in which progressive activists recruited “mobilizers” and introduced them to a training app.
The app taught the mobilizers to make a list of 75 family members, friends, former classmates, and coworkers, and then contact each one four times before the election urging them to get out and vote for progressive ideas and candidates.
A trainer’s explanation captured on a recording of the Zoom call made express mention of Janet Protasiewicz.
Mobilizers were promised up to $270 in gift cards if they made the contacts required and an additional $30 payment for each person they recruited to download the training app.
By Steven Kovac