Joe Donald endorses JoAnne Kloppenburg for Wisconsin Supreme Court

MILWAUKEE — The candidate knocked out of the race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is endorsing Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Joe Donald announced the endorsement Tuesday, February 23rd. The endorsement is a shift for Donald, who once endorsed Bradley for a different judicial position.

Donald said Bradley was qualified for that job, but not qualified for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Donald said Kloppenburg shares his "commitment to equal justice under the law, to an independent judiciary and to ensuring the Supreme Court is the people's court."

Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg

Kloppenburg said Donald raised some critically important issues during the primary and will work with him on criminal justice reform and racial disparities.

Incumbent Rebecca Bradley finished the primary with 45 percent of the vote, compared to Kloppenburg's 43 percent. Donald had 12 percent of the vote.

As for how Donald's endorsement of Kloppenburg would impact the race against Bradley, the impact would be felt the most in Milwaukee County -- where Bradley was the top vote-getter during the primary. Donald got a lot of votes among Milwaukee County voters.

Rebecca Bradley

"When does an endorsement transfer?" Mordecai Lee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor said.

Lee expects that it will in this case, among African-American voters.

While Donald got just 12 percent of the statewide vote, he did much better in Milwaukee County, with 25 percent.

Supreme Court primary

"I think that Judge Donald`s public endorsement will carry some weight because it will help carry the word in terms of who they might be more willing to be pleased with," Lee said.

Governor Scott Walker appointed Bradley to the court, while Kloppenburg is viewed as more liberal.

Bradley's campaign downplayed the endorsement, saying "it seems Donald was not so non-partisan after all."

Rebecca Bradley, Joe Donald, JoAnne Kloppenburg

The status of the presidential race may overshadow all of this by April 5th.

"Let`s say Hillary Clinton has locked it up. Then there might be some Democratic voters who won`t have much incentive to go to vote because the sexy race, the key race in April is going to be the presidential primary," Lee said.

Voters will choose a Supreme Court justice on April 5th.