Protasiewicz wins Wisconsin Supreme Court race, AP predicts
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Judge Janet Protasiewicz has won the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, the Associated Press predicts. Her win would give liberals majority on the state’s high court with fate of abortion law looming.
The Milwaukee County Circuit Judge defeated former state Surpreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, who previously worked for Republicans and had support from the state’s leading anti-abortion groups. It’s his second loss in a race for Supreme Court in three years. The Associated Press called the race less than an hour after polls closed.
Protasiewicz thanked voters for showing up to vote in this election, which had garnered national attention and shattered advertising spending records. She said the results show Wisconsinites believe in democracy and the democratic process.
“Just over a year ago I got into this race,” Protasiewicz said. “I made the decision because I saw that Wisconsinites were ready for common sense and fairness on their Supreme Court.”
It was a mix of emotions over at Kelly’s watch party, with some supporters very upset and others say they are optimistic about the future. Kelly thanked his supporters during a speech, but the tone of the speech turned halfway when he called the race dishonorable.
“All I did was have the great, good fortune to have numerous conversations with the beautiful people of Wisconsin all over the state and that was a joy and a blessing to me and I thank you from the deepest parts of my heart for that,” Kelly said.
Kelly voted Tuesday morning in Ottawa, Wisconsin, just west of Waukesha. He spent the day before Election Day stumping for last minute votes. He encouraged everyone who was eligible to get out and vote.
On Election Day, Protasiewicz voted around 10 a.m. at the Franklin City Hall, a town outside of Milwaukee. After casting her ballot, she spent a few minutes talking with reporters and she said she was feeling positive and hopeful the threat of severe storms wouldn’t stop people from showing up to vote. Protasiewicz told reporters democracy is on the line with this election, calling Wisconsin’s congressional maps gerrymandered and rigged, and saying a women’s right to healthcare is also being decided.
As of Monday, Protasiewicz and her backers had spent about $23.3 million compared with about $17.6 million for Kelly and his supporters, according to a report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, which tracks campaign spending.
When asked about Protasiewicz’s team raising more than Kelly, Kelly’s campaign advisor Ben Voelkel said it doesn’t always mean more support.
“Sure, there’s a lot of money,” Voelkel said. “That doesn’t necessarily equate to people. It doesn’t necessarily equate to voters. I think what we’re gonna see here is the people of Wisconsin, not necessarily money from outside of Wisconsin, decide this race.”
Kelly is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, who served from 2016 to 2020. He was appointed by then-governor Scott Walker, a Republican.
On the issue of abortion, which was expected to drive many voters to the polls, Kelly has not said whether he thinks Wisconsin’s near-total abortion ban is legal. But, he has expressed opposition to abortion in the past, including a 2012 blog post in which he said the Democratic Party and the National Organization for Women were committed to normalizing the taking of human life. He has also done legal work for Wisconsin Right to Life, one of three anti-abortion groups that has endorsed him.
Protaziewicz hasn’t been quiet about her personal views on abortion. She says personally, she feels a woman should have the right to choose what’s best for her health. But she also says her personal views won’t dictate how she decides a case.
Protaziewicz’s campaign manager Sam Roecker talked through what it was going to take for her to win Tuesday.
“I think we’re seeing good crowds at polling places today, we saw a lot of early votes coming in especially in places like Dane County and Milwaukee which is usually a good sign for progressive candidates,” Roecker said. “So yeah were keeping an eye on that.”
Protaziewicz also told reporters she’s had a respiratory infection the past five days which kept her off the campaign trail. She did say she was feeling better and planned to spend Election Day on Zoom calls, meeting with people, and visiting with her family who is visiting from out of town. A reporter asked the judge if she had one speech or two speeches written for Election Night. Protaziewicz laughed and replied with “I don’t know.”
Protaziewicz’s campaign gathered at Saint Kate-The Arts Hotel Tuesday night in downtown Milwaukee. Kelly’s watch party took place at the Heidel House in Green Lake.
This article includes reporting by the Associated Press.
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