It’s Election Day in Wisconsin and Chicago (among others)

Welcome to the Tuesday, April 4, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. It’s Election Day in Wisconsin and Chicago
  2. Maryland voters to decide on state constitutional right to abortion in 2024
  3. Six noteworthy candidates are running in the 2024 presidential election, twelve fewer than this point in the 2020 cycle

It’s Election Day in Wisconsin and Chicago

Voters in Wisconsin and Chicago go to the polls today to decide two of this year’s most-watched elections: Chicago’s mayoral runoff and Wisconsin’s state supreme court general election. Here’s one final look at each race.


In Wisconsin, voters will decide the ideological balance of their state supreme court in what has become the most expensive state court election in U.S. history. 

According to The Hill’s Caroline Vakil, “The race has become one of the most expensive and closely watched contests in the country, as the court could weigh in on the state’s 1849 abortion ban, redistricting, and possible future election result disputes.” 

Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal, and former Justice Daniel Kelly, a conservative, are running for the seat of retiring Justice Patience Roggensack, whose term ends in July 2023. While Wisconsin’s supreme court elections are officially nonpartisan, the current court is considered to have a 4-3 conservative majority. Roggensack is a member of that conservative majority. 

If Kelly wins, the conservative majority will remain. If Protasiewicz wins, the court will switch to a 4-3 liberal majority for the first time in 15 years. 

According to WisPolitics, campaigns and satellite groups had spent more than $44 million in the race as of March 30, three times the $15 million spent in the previous record holder, a 2004 Illinois Supreme Court race.

EMILY’s List, Naral Pro-Choice America, and the court’s three liberal justices endorsed Protasiewicz. 

Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Family Action, and Pro-Life Wisconsin endorsed Kelly. Three of the four conservative justices, including Roggensack, endorsed Kelly. 

Tonight’s winner will be elected to a 10-year term. Wisconsin’s next supreme court election is in 2025, when liberal Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s term expires. 

Voters will also decide three ballot questions. Two are constitutional measures that relate to conditions for the release of an accused person before conviction and cash bail. The third is an advisory question that asks voters whether able-bodied childless adults should have to apply for work before receiving welfare benefits.

Wisconsin, alongside Pennsylvania, is one of two states holding elections for state supreme court in 2023.


Meanwhile, in Chicago, voters will decide whether Cook County commissioner Brandon Johnson or former CEO of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas will succeed incumbent Lori Lightfoot as mayor. 

Johnson and Vallas advanced from a field of nine candidates in the Feb. 28 general election. Lightfoot finished third, becoming the first mayor in 34 years not to win re-election. 

Chicago’s elections are also officially nonpartisan, but candidates are typically affiliated with one of the major political parties. Johnson and Vallas are both Democrats. The last Republican mayor of Chicago, William Thompson, left office in 1931.

According to The Washington Post’s Kim Bellware, “[Vallas and Johnson] have starkly different visions for how to run the nation’s third-largest city.”

“Paul Vallas […] campaigned on a tough law-and-order message, calling for more police officers and cracking down on misdemeanors like retail theft and public nuisance offenses. Brandon Johnson […] energized liberal voters with a message of improving public safety instead by investing in social services, mental health care, education and housing,” Bellware wrote.

Johnson’s endorsers include Sens. Bernie Sanders (I) and Elizabeth Warren (D), as well as more than 30 state and local officials. General election candidates Jesús Garcia and Kambium Buckner also endorsed Johnson. 

Vallas’ endorsers include Sen. Dick Durbin (D), former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and more than 20 local officials. General election candidates Sophia King, Roderick Sawyer, and Willie Nelson also endorsed Vallas.

Johnson also has the endorsement of the Chicago Teachers Union, while Vallas’ has the support of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police. “Both unions offer considerable muscle,” wrote The New York Times’ Jonathan Weisman. “The teachers union has put $1.2 million behind Mr. Johnson, with a further $1 million coming from the national and Illinois federations of teachers. Armies of door knockers and phone bankers are pitching in, while the police union presses its members to volunteer for the final Vallas sprint,” Weisman said. 

This year’s contest is the third consecutive mayoral election to go to a runoff since Chicago mayoral elections became nonpartisan in 1999.

Fourteen city council seats are also on the ballot. Elsewhere in Illinois, voters in the state capital of Springfield will also be casting ballots for mayor. Incumbent Jim Langfelder and Misty Bucher are running in that election.  

Voters in Alaska, California, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are also going to the polls today. Click here to read about all the key elections taking place on April 4!

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Maryland voters to decide on state constitutional right to abortion in 2024 

The Maryland General Assembly placed a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot that would add a right to reproductive freedom to the state’s Declaration of Rights. The amendment defines reproductive freedom as including “the ability to make and effectuate decisions to prevent, continue, or end one’s own pregnancy.”

The amendment was introduced as Senate Bill 798 on Feb. 6, 2023. The Senate approved the bill 32-15 on March 14. The House approved it 98-38 on March 30.

In 2022, California, Michigan, and Vermont became the first states to adopt constitutional amendments establishing a right to abortion.

In 2024, voters in New York will also decide on a constitutional amendment that would establish a state right to abortion. The Hawaii Legislature is also considering adding an abortion right amendment to the ballot. In Ohio, signatures are being gathered for an initiative that would appear on the November 2023 ballot. In South Dakota, signatures are being gathered for one that would appear on the November 2024 ballot. 

Currently, abortion is legal in Maryland until viability. Abortion is legal after viability if the patient’s life or health is endangered or there is a fetal anomaly.

Pro-Choice Maryland, Common Cause Maryland, the Maryland AFL-CIO, and Maryland State Education Association were among the organizations that supported the bill. In legislative testimony, Sharon Blugis, interim executive director of Pro-Choice Maryland, wrote, “Access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion and reproductive health care is not only a moral imperative, but it also has enormous social, economic, and health benefits to individuals, families, and communities.”

Dr. Frank Arlinghaus testified in opposition to the amendment, writing, “[A]mending the Maryland Constitution is an unusual and extreme measure, and this bill would take an extreme position on abortion, restricting the legislature’s opportunities to pass reasonable restrictions on abortion in late pregnancy or to restrict it as other healthcare.” 

The Maryland Catholic Conference, the Maryland Family Institute, Maryland Right to Life, and the Hope Movement also testified in opposition to the amendment. 

From 2000 through 2022, the Maryland General Assembly referred 26 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved 25 (96.15%) and rejected one (3.85%). In 2000, voters rejected a proposal allowing the state to authorize Prince George County to use eminent domain for redevelopment purposes. 

From 1970 to November 2022, there were 53 abortion-related ballot measures nationwide. Forty-three (81%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (26%) and rejected 32 (74%) of these 43 ballot measures. The other 10 abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved seven (70%) and rejected three (30%).

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Six noteworthy candidates are running in the 2024 presidential election, twelve fewer than this point in the 2020 cycle

As of April 3, 2024, six noteworthy candidates are running in the 2024 presidential election, including one Democrat and five Republicans. The latest addition to our list is former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who announced his campaign on Sunday.  

Below is a summary of each candidate’s campaign activity from March 27 to April 3.

  • Hutchinson announced his campaign in an April 2 interview on ABC’s “This Week.” He said, “I am going to be running. And the reason, as I’ve traveled the country for six months, I hear people talk about the leadership of our country, and I’m convinced that people want leaders that appeal to the best of America, and not simply appeal to our worst instincts.”
  • Former President Donald Trump (R) hired Trevor Naglieri, the national field director for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) 2016 presidential campaign, as the Trump campaign’s New Hampshire state director, according to reporting from Politico on March 28. 
  • Author and 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson (D) campaigned across South Carolina from March 27 to March 29. She spoke at a drag show and story hour in Johnson City, Tennessee, on March 31.
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (R) campaigned in New Hampshire on March 27 and March 28. She wrote an op-ed for the National Review on March 29 titled “Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Starts by Securing the Border.” On April 3, she visited the United States-Mexico border.
  • Entrepreneur and author Vivek Ramaswamy (R) published an op-ed in the New York Post on March 27 titled “The USA is experiencing a crisis of faith — in itself” and aired his first television ad in New Hampshire on March 29. He spoke at the National Review Institute’s Ideas Summit on March 31.
  • Ballotpedia did not identify any campaign activity this past week from former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R).

Additionally, on March 30, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) announced a grand jury had voted to indict Trump on criminal charges. This was the first time in United States history that a former U.S. president was charged with a crime. Trump issued a statement in response, saying in part, “This is Political Persecution and Election Interference at the highest level in history.” Click here to see our coverage of these events. 

At this point in the 2020 cycle, 18 noteworthy candidates were running for president. Seventeen were seeking the Democratic nomination, and one (Trump) was seeking the Republican nomination.

Notable stories at the time included the Democratic National Committee announcing on March 28, 2019, that the first Democratic primary debates would be held in Miami, Florida, on June 26 and 27. The DNC also announced that the second set of Democratic primary debates would be held in Detroit, Michigan, on July 30-31. This cycle, the DNC has not yet announced whether it will hold primary debates. The Republican National Committee has announced it plans to hold its first primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in August 2023. 

In the 2016 election cycle, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was the only noteworthy candidate who had announced his campaign as of April 3, 2015. At this point in the 2016 cycle, media outlets were reporting about possible presidential candidates. FiveThirtyEight profiled several Democratic candidates who might have run if Hillary Clinton (D) did not enter the race, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D). Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said there was a “higher than 90 percent” chance that she would run for president. Fiorina later entered the race and joined Ted Cruz’s ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

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