Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal judicial candidate, has won the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, beating conservative candidate and former State Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly. With Protasiewicz’s victory, liberals now hold a 4-3 majority in the court for the first time in more than a decade. This election is seen as a critical win for Democrats, showing their strength in fundraising, and could have national consequences in the 2024 presidential election.
Despite the election being officially non-partisan, its outcome drew interest from party leaders and funders across the nation. The court is expected to take up cases with significant political implications, such as redrawing legislative maps to provide Democrats an advantage in congressional races, ruling on the state’s abortion ban, and hearing challenges to the voter ID law.
Political funding for the $45 million Supreme Court race came largely from prominent Democratic donors, including billionaire George Soros and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Protasiewicz and her allies reportedly outspent Kelly by $5 million.
Though judicial candidates usually steer clear of taking overt political positions, Protasiewicz was vocal about her opposition to the state’s abortion ban, calling it “draconian,” and made it a center of her campaign and television ads.
Kelly and groups supporting him scrutinized Protasiewicz’s sentencing history in cases involving violent criminals, calling her “No Jail Janet.” They highlighted multiple individuals who she gave light sentences to, including a child sex offender who later killed a teenage girl, and a man who filmed his sexual assault of a 13-year-old and posted it on Facebook.
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