State News

Holder emphasizes importance of millennial involvement in local elections

Former Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized a progressive politics “ripple effect” from Wisconsin into the rest of the nation during a campus visit Thursday.

Image By: Will Husted

NextGen Wisconsin welcomed former Attorney General Eric Holder to campus Thursday in an effort to energize and invigorate young voters ahead of the April 2 state Supreme Court election. 

Holder described the race for the seat left by Justice Shirley Abrahamson between Judges Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer as critical ahead of major redistricting decisions in 2020. He stressed the importance of turnout by millennial voters in local elections

“We as Democrats and progressives have tended to focus on presidential and federal elections at the expense of local elections,” Holder said. “The reality is if you’re concerned about a women’s right to choose, sane gun laws, climate change, stopping voter suppression, those things really happen more at the state level than they do at the federal level.”

Holder referenced his last visit to campus this time last year while campaigning for current Justice Rebecca Dallet in her race against Michael Screnock.

“I thought [Dallet] was the better candidate last year, but you could make a credible argument for her opponent. This one’s not close. We don’t want to wake up the day after the election and feel the way we did after the Trump election,” Holder said. 

Since his time serving in the Obama administration, Holder has spent his time campaigning in local judicial elections and fighting against voter suppression concerns on a state level, including a past lawsuit against former Gov. Scott Walker. 

“If [Hageborn] ends up on the Supreme Court for who knows how long, his rulings will be inconsistent with the future that all you young people want,” Holder said. 

Holder characterized the 2020 election as an “existential crisis” marked by whether Democrats like himself could learn from their mistakes. 

He also painted a picture of Wisconsin leading the way to inspire other states into more progressive representation. 

“That stuff ripples out and gives hope to people in other states,” Holder said. “People in North Carolina can look to Wisconsin and say ‘Wisconsin was pretty messed up, but they got rid of Scott Walker, we can do something in North Carolina.’”

Holder concluded by encouraging those in the room to bring anyone who might care about democracy and representation to the polls with them. 

The Dane County ballot will also include mayor, school board and city council races. UW-Madison students can register to vote online at or at the polls on election day April 2. 

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