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State Chief Justice to have challenger in spring election

Wisconsin's chief justice will have one challenger in the April election.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Randy Koschnick was the only candidate to file nomination papers by Tuesday's deadline to run against Shirley Abrahamson.

Most justices are appointed by the governor to replace incumbents who retire during their 10-year terms.

But this is the third straight year voters will choose a member. And while the court is not supposed to be partisan we could see another year of Republican-and Democratic-style spins and attacks along with record spending by special interest groups.

About $6 million was spent in each of the last two contests, mostly by outside organizations.

Koschnick, a former public defender, calls Abrahamson an activist judge who makes laws instead of interpreting them.

Abrahamson, who's been on the Supreme Court for 32 years, denies that. She vows to stress the importance of an impartial judiciary.

Only 22 percent of Wisconsin's eligible voters took part in last year's contest, in which Michael Gableman unseated incumbent Justice Louis Butler.

Another justice recently said the Supreme Court election should be moved to the fall, when more people normally turn out.