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Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is heading to Wisconsin this week to campaign for Supreme Court candidate Rebecca Dallet.

Holder, who was Attorney General under President Barack Obama and leads a group that has sued Gov. Scott Walker over not calling special elections for open legislative seats, will visit Madison and Milwaukee on Thursday and Friday.

Holder, who heads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, will meet with Milwaukee-based Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and visit the UW-Madison campus on Friday for a forum hosted by NextGen America on “the 2018 elections, redistricting, and voting rights with college students and young activists.”

“The events will be focused on the importance of redistricting reform in Wisconsin, voting rights, and getting African-Americans and young people engaged ahead of critical elections this year, including voting for Rebecca Dallet on April 3 in the race for the state Supreme Court,” a statement from the group said.

A spokeswoman for Dallet’s campaign said Dallet would not appearing with Holder.

Last month, the group filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court against Walker over Walker’s decision to not call special elections for two open legislative seats. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two residents who live in those districts.

Democrats have demanded Walker call the elections after picking up a Senate seat long held by a Republican. The victory energized state Democrats and alarmed Walker, who told state Republicans the victory was a “wake up call.”

Holder’s group also has spent $140,000 on digital advertisements on behalf of Dallet, who is running against conservative-backed Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock.

Dallet has made the issue of recusing from cases involving conflicts of interest a focus of her campaign. She has heavily criticized former Justice Michael Gableman, who she is seeking to replace on the court, for a decision in 2015 not to step off a case involving the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which had spent millions to help elect Gableman.

Dallet also has been criticized by Republicans and Screnock for accepting campaign donations from attorneys in cases before her while also touting the importance of recusing from cases with conflicts of interest.

When asked if $140,000 is enough to trigger a recusal from hearing cases involving Holder’s lawsuit if Dallet is elected and should the case wind up at the Supreme Court, Dallet said, “It might.”

“Certainly if millions of dollars were spent on my campaign by a party in a case that was sitting in front of me as a party in a case, then I would recuse myself,” Dallet said Tuesday after speaking at a Madison forum held by the Dane County Bar Association. “I think we’re talking about massive amounts of money spent by a group that is a party in a case in front of a justice — then that justice should then step off the case.”

She said her stance distinguishes herself from Screnock “who refuses to make those assurances.”

WMC has spent more than $500,000 on behalf of Screnock. Screnock has not answered whether he would recuse from cases involving the group. He says he would if he felt he could not be impartial.


Molly Beck covers politics and state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.