Liberal candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz won Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race Tuesday, beating conservative candidate Justice Daniel Kelly, according to The New York Times.
Protasiewicz beat Kelly 55.8% to 44.2% in the most expensive state Supreme Court race since a 2004 Illinois election, the NYT reported with 63% of the votes in. The win for Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee county judge who said she “embraces” the progressive label, will alter the ideology of the court, changing the balance from a 4-3 conservative majority to a 4-3 liberal majority.
“It’s entirely possible that I’ve misread my fellow Wisconsinites: maybe they’re tired of the Constitution, maybe they don’t really care about the liberties it protects, maybe they’re content with having Janet … [dictate] what laws they can and cannot have, and which liberties they may or may not enjoy,” Kelly previously told the DCNF. “I think that would be a crying shame.”
The conservative majority, which was left vulnerable by Justice Patience Roggensack’s retirement, has flipped to liberal control, determining how the court might rule in cases involving abortion, crime, legislative maps and other contentious topics.
The election has almost tripled the national spending record with Protasiewicz, Kelly and other special interest groups topping $42 million altogether, according to a Monday report. This race beats the $15 million spent in the 2004 Illinois Supreme Court election, with Protasiewicz outspending Kelly $12.4 million to $2.2 million since March 20.
Decision Desk HQ projects Janet Protasiewicz wins election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.#DecisionMade: 9:56pm EST
— Decision Desk HQ (@DecisionDeskHQ) April 5, 2023
Protasiewicz enjoyed endorsements from the likes of Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List and Citizen Action of Wisconsin. The judge also received high-dollar donations from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, to the tune of $8.4 million, according to a recent finance report.
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin received $1 million from both George Soros and Democratic Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, as well as $12,000 from California Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the same report indicates. The party funded Protasiewicz with over $8 million in monetary funds and over $700,000 in non-monetary donations.
Kelly enjoyed endorsements from law enforcement and various other judges, as well as some conservative organizations like the Wisconsin Right to Life and the National Rifle Association.
The Wisconsin Republican Party gave Kelly just under $500,000 in donations, most of which were in-kind donations with only $33,657 in monetary funds, according to a recent finance report from the same period. Kelly said he’d rather lose the election with integrity than to be “bought and paid for” by any political party, like he claims his opponent was.
“If I win, I want to be able to serve the people of Wisconsin as a justice, not an adjunct of a political party,” Kelly previously told the DCNF. “When you receive that kind of money from a political party, the implications are unmistakable: you are an adjunct of that political party.”
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