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GOP's electoral silver lining: Wisconsin legislative supermajority, Illinois school board wins

While there will be a liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, there will also be a Republican supermajority in the Wisconsin state Senate.

Published: April 6, 2023 11:51pm

Updated: April 7, 2023 12:29pm

While a bitter taste still lingers from progressive wins at the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Chicago city hall, Republicans are savoring two electoral gains this week with long-term consequences: a new supermajority in the Wisconsin legislature and conservative school board wins in Chicago's suburbs.

In fact, state Rep. Dan Knodl's capture of a vacant Wisconsin state Senate seat on Tuesday already has Republicans contemplating using their new two-thirds majority in the chamber to possibly remove liberal officials like elected judges and district attorneys through impeachment.

Knodl said before he was elected, he would consider impeaching Milwaukee County court officials, including judges and George Soros-backed Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

Knodl said one of those he would consider voting to remove from office would be Janet Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee judge who won a vacant seat on the state Supreme Court Tuesday that tipped the court's majority to liberals' advantage with major rulings on abortion ahead.

"The judges, the circuit court judges, I think, have failed the community by releasing or not having high enough bail on these criminals, the perpetrators. And so they need to be looked at," he told a radio host.

Asked directly during his campaign if he would vote to impeach Protasiewicz, he said "I would consider it."

Throughout her time on the bench, Protasiewicz has given lenient sentences to multiple violent criminals who have reoffended in felony cases involving violence against women and sex crimes against children. 

Legislators can remove civil officers "for corrupt conduct in office, or for crimes and misdemeanors," according to the state Constitution. The officials can be removed if they are impeached by a simply majority in the state Assembly and convicted in a state Senate trial with a two-thirds majority.

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Wednesday regarding impeachment, "To impeach someone they would need to do something very serious, so no we are not looking to start the impeachment process as a regular occurring event in Wisconsin."

The state Assembly has only impeached one official in its history, which was Judge Levi Hubbell in 1853, but he wasn’t convicted in the Senate.

If Protasiewicz were impeached and convicted by the state Senate before her term on the state Supreme Court begins in August, she wouldn’t be able to continue to serve as a circuit court judge. But it is unclear if it would prevent her from taking her seat on the state Supreme Court.

Wisconsin GOP state Rep. Janel Brandtjen told Just the News on Friday that impeachment is based on the actions and behaviors of officials, and that the state legislature will have to see how the newly-elected justice acts in her position on the state Supreme Court.

Brandtjen noted that Protasiewicz said she would change legislative maps and wants to interfere with right-to-work legislation passed under former Gov. Scott Walker. As legal challenges reach the state Supreme Court, Brandtjen said, "we'll see have to how that plays out."

Just to the south of Wisconsin, liberal Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson won the Chicago mayoral race over former Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who campaigned heavily on addressing rising crime in the city. However, in neighboring Will County, conservative groups who support parents for school boards won eight seats in local school board races.

That included three candidates supported by We The Parents Illinois and five candidates receiving support Lincoln Way Area Freedom Coalition

We The Parents Illinois focuses on preventing “woke” political ideologies from entering classrooms, providing safe learning environments, restoring high academic standards, and standing for fiscal responsibility, while Lincoln Way Area Freedom Coalition seeks to elect conservative candidates to government offices of all levels.

The 1776 Project Political Action Committee, a national group that seeks to elect school board members who oppose Critical Race Theory and will promote “patriotism and pride in American history,” had six endorsed candidates elected to school boards on Tuesday, with five of them in counties neighboring either Cook County or Will County.

School board races in the Chicago area have become contentious since the COVID-19 lockdowns and the revelation of gender ideology and Critical Race Theory being taught in schools.

Former Oswego school board President Donna Marino quit less than a year after being elected to the position two years ago, claiming that she was afraid for the mental and physical health of her family when she was threatened by some parents who opposed mask mandates and the approach to teaching race and sex education in the classroom.