Big progressive wins in Wisconsin and Chicago elections this week show the staying power of left-wing positions on abortion and crime as issues heading into 2024.

By Erin Doherty and Ivana Saric, Axios

Why it matters: After Democrats became the surprise winners of the 2022 midterms, the twin Midwest results Tuesday in widely watched mayoral and state Supreme Court races showed how the party could energize its base.

  • “Everybody needs to understand this, everybody advising candidates, everybody running, everybody looking at putting ballot initiatives forward: Abortion rights are a winning issue,” Democratic strategist Jess McIntosh told Axios.
brandon johnson

Driving the news: In Wisconsin, Janet Protasiewicz won in the most expensive state judicial race in U.S. history, giving liberals the state Supreme Court majority for the first time in more than a decade. The crucial election carried implications for abortion rights and redistricting in the perennial swing state.

Protasiewicz won by roughly 11 points, and turnout broke the previous record for a spring election not coinciding with a presidential primary, AP notes.

  • Voters “went to the ballot because they understood that the right to abortion depended on this seat,” she said.
  • Though the election was technically nonpartisan, Protasiewicz was backed by Democrats and abortion rights groups including Emily’s List.

In Chicago, progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson beat the more moderate Paul Vallas, who campaigned on a platform focused on public safety as the city grapples with high violent crime.

  • Johnson’s victory handed progressives control over two of America’s largest three cities, following L.A. Mayor Karen Bass’ win last year.
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