Liberals Will Control the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the First Time in 15 Years

John Hart

Democratic-backed Janet Protasiewicz has defeated Republican-backed Dan Kelly in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race to determine which political ideology would control the state’s high court.


The race wasn’t even close. Protasiewicz received more than 55% of the vote, while Kelly got 44%. It was the most expensive state judicial race in American history as outside groups poured $45 million into the state.

The deciding factor was the prospect that liberal women would lose the right to abort their babies, and they turned out to vote in large numbers. It’s not so much the numbers of pro- and anti-abortion voters that made the difference. It’s the passion of the pro-abortion crowd that swamped pro-lifers.


Perhaps the biggest impact will be in the state’s legislative and congressional delegations. Despite the close-to 50/50 makeup of the state, Republicans have a near-supermajority in both legislative chambers, as well as a solid hold on the congressional delegation.

Tuesday’s election could be the beginning of the end of that. Protasiewicz regularly called the state’s political maps unfair on the trail, and Democratic-aligned groups are likely itching to bring a case looking to challenge them as illegal political gerrymanders.

Democrats don’t like the Republican-drawn maps that skewed heavily in the GOP’s favor, so they want to draw their own maps that will skew heavily in favor of the Democrats. So there.

Republican Dan Kelly had some choice words for Janet Protasiewicz, whose lies and exaggerations irked Mr. Kelly something awful.


“I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” he said at an event held at the Heidel House Hotel in Green Lake. “But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Kelly called Protasiewicz’s campaign “deeply deceitful, dishonorable and despicable.”

“I say this not because we did not prevail. I do not say this because of the rancid slanders that were launched against me, although that was bad enough. But that is not my concern. My concern is the damage done to the institution of the courts,” Kelly said.

“My opponent is a serial liar. She’s disregarded judicial ethics; she’s demeaned the judiciary with her behavior. This is the future that we have to look forward to in Wisconsin.”

Adding: “I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, because I think it’s going to need it.”

The Republicans have a supermajority in the legislature that Democrats can’t ignore. And there’s no guarantee that a Democratic-drawn map will wrest control of the state legislature from the GOP.

But Democrats are going to try. And along with the near certainty that Wisconsin’s strict anti-abortion law will be overturned, Republicans need to point to 2024 when they will have another opportunity to seize the court.


But before then, the GOP is going to have to fix what ails it — namely, the Republicans’ vanishing advantage in suburbia.

The counties, which surround Milwaukee, have been emblematic of the shift in the state during the Trump era. They collectively have not voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson, but have gradually trended more Democratic over the last decade.

On Tuesday, former state Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly was still on track to win all three of those crucial counties. But the margins continue to shrink for Republicans there — a bright red, flashing warning side for the GOP ahead of the 2024 elections.

Notably, Protasiewicz came dangerously close to outright winning in Ozaukee County, trailing Kelly by roughly five points in a county that Mitt Romney won by roughly 30 points a decade ago.

This is realignment with a vengeance. The GOP is going to have to find a lot of votes very quickly to forestall a Democratic party victory in 2024.


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