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Ann Walsh Bradley elected to third term on Wisconsin Supreme Court, defeating James Daley

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MADISON (WITI/AP) — On Tuesday, April 7th, Election Day in Wisconsin, two questions affecting the Wisconsin Supreme Court were on the ballot. The first: the race between incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, seeking a third 10-year term, and her challenger, Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley. The second: a constitutional amendment that would change the 126-year-old practice of having the most senior justice serve as chief justice.

Shortly before 10:00 p.m. Tuesday, the Associated Press called the Supreme Court race for Bradley. Bradley says her re-election victory shows that voters want the Wisconsin Supreme Court to be nonpartisan.

Bradley is one of the seven-member court's two liberal justices. Daley actively courted Republicans as he hoped to increase the conservative majority.

While the race is officially nonpartisan, Daley accepted donations from the Republican Party.

Bradley benefited from television ads run by an independent group. But she told The Associated Press after her win that Daley's campaign was different because it took money directly from the GOP.

She says political parties have agendas, and voters showed they don't want that influencing the courts.

Bradley supporters began arriving at her party in Madison at 8:00 p.m., as the polls closed. Earlier this week, Bradley called this a make-or-break race in more ways than one. She said she was hopeful voters would green-light her third term on the state's high court.

"It is a watershed day for the future of the Wisconsin Supreme Court," Bradley said.

During a campaign stop at a Milwaukee coffee shop on Monday, April 6th, Bradley reinforced her record as a leader, citing the 170 state judges who support her re-election.

"These are the people that know my record and commitment to justice," Bradley said.

Politics played a huge role in the April election. Bradley said a vote for her would help to keep the court nonpartisan.

"My opponent sees it very differently.  He has a political party paying -- funding -- part of his campaign," Bradley said.

Widely seen as one of the seven-member court's two liberal justices, Bradley said she also supports maintaining seniority as the basis for establishing the court's chief justice.

A constitutional amendment to change the decision from seniority to a majority vote by the seven justices is seen by Bradley as a measure to remove Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson -- a position the liberal-leaning Abrahamson has held since 1996.

James Daley and his supporters gathered in Janesville on election night. Daley said he was confident he would deny Bradley a third term on the Supreme Court.

Throughout this campaign, Daley has labeled Bradley a liberal activist on the bench.

"I`m a conservative jurist because I believe rule of law and the constitution are more important than my political beliefs, my personal partisan political beliefs," Daley said.

On Tuesday night, Daley was also watching the results come in as to the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

"The system is -- there`s nothing to remove the chief justice right now if the majority don`t agree with what the chief justice is doing. I think it`s democracy. I think it`s a great idea," Daley said.

Regardless of the final results, Daley would celebrate something Tuesday night -- his 68th birthday.

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