Litigation has already been filed over the way the election was handled, though it’s not clear what sort of remedy, if any, a judge might fashion, or whether the courts would be willing to step in to set aside the results.
Should Karofsky’s victory stand, however, conservatives will now hold just a 4-3 edge on the Supreme Court, which has, over the last decade, never restrained the extremist legislative agenda pushed through by state Republicans. That includes efforts to suppress the vote, undermine workers’ rights, and gerrymander electoral maps. With only a one-seat advantage, Republicans may encounter legal roadblocks they had long grown unaccustomed to.
And in a few years’ time, they could be facing a liberal court. In 2023, Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, another conservative, will see her current 10-year term expire. If progressives can flip her seat, they’ll gain a majority on the bench and finally be able to place a check on the GOP. Most importantly, if Republicans are able to gerrymander yet again following this year’s census, a progressive state Supreme Court would be able to revisit any unfair maps.
The outcome is also a black eye for Donald Trump, who repeatedly touted his support for Kelly and is counting on victory in Wisconsin—which he carried four years ago by a margin of less than 0.8 percent—to win a second term. While the electorate could look different in the fall, Republicans cannot be happy to lose a statewide race in one of their most important November battlegrounds.