Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz soundly defeated conservative-backed candidate Dan Kelly on Tuesday in a race that was crucial for the ideological balance of the court.
Protasiewicz, who made no apologies about her support for abortion and other liberal policies, earned about 55.5% of the vote to Kelly’s 44.5%. Protasiewicz racked up huge margins in urban areas like Milwaukee and Madison while Kelly was unable to get the turnout he needed in more rural areas.
The race, which was one of the most expensive court races in history, will likely have major impacts on policies in the Badger State, including abortion, voter integrity measures, election maps, and guns. The state’s voter ID law could even be in jeopardy as a result of Tuesday’s election, as Left-wing challenges could prevail in court.
“I feel great. I could not feel better,” Protasiewicz told the Associated Press after her victory, which gives liberal justices a 4-3 advantage for the first time in 15 years. “I am surprised by the results and the magnitude of the victory here. We are absolutely delighted and thrilled.”
Protasiewicz was backed by Left-wing billionaire George Soros, Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and many celebrities, including actor Mark Ruffalo and director Steven Spielberg. Total spending has exceeded $40 million, an astronomical amount compared to previous years when total spending was only around $10 million.
“I wish that in a circumstance like this I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent. But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede. This was the most deeply deceitful, dishonorable, despicable campaign I have ever seen run for the courts. It was truly beneath contempt,” Kelly said after the results were made clear. “My opponent is a serial liar. She has disregarded judicial ethics. She has demeaned the judiciary with her behavior. This is the future we have to look forward to in Wisconsin.”
Protasiewicz has promised to oppose the 1849 Wisconsin abortion law and featured a campaign ad showing a woman celebrating an abortion because the child could have been born with disabilities.
She has also come under fire for her record on sentencing crimes, with conservative groups saying that she consistently gave violent criminals soft sentences. Protasiewicz claimed that her victory was a win for “democracy” and against extremism.
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“It was really about saving our democracy, getting away from extremism and having a fair and impartial court where everybody gets a fair shot in the courtroom,” she said. “That’s what it was all about.”
Protasiewicz will begin a 10-year term in August and it will be two years before the next election for the state Supreme Court.
The state is again expected to be a pivotal battleground state in the 2024 presidential election.