Wisconsin Supreme Court justices make endorsements in contested race for seat
A majority of current Wisconsin Supreme Court members have chosen a frontrunner in the race who will decide the court’s ideological balance with several major decisions looming.
Republicans, Democrats and their allies are expected to spend millions on the race as whoever controls the court will be able to rule on issues ranging from whether the ban on Abortion of 1849 by the state must remain in force or if the maps of the gerrymandered legislative districts must be redrawn.
Judge Ann Walsh Bradley on Tuesday became the latest judge to endorse the race, endorsing Liberal candidate Jane Protasiewicz, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge. She is the fourth of seven current judges to issue an endorsement.
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Bradley, in a statement, cited Protasiewicz’s experience as both a judge and 25 years as a prosecutor, saying she would be “fair and impartial” on the Supreme Court.
Protasiewicz has raised more money than any of the other candidates and also racked up endorsements not just from former justices, but also from unions, more than 100 justices and dozens of mostly Democratic lawmakers.
She was the first contestant to air a TV ad, focusing on abortion, and on Tuesday she released two more spots, including one shedding light on the difficulty of pronouncing her surname.
Outside groups largely did not get involved in the primary, but liberal group A Better Wisconsin Together began airing about $800,000 in attack ads on Tuesday targeting conservative Waukesha County Circuit candidate Jennifer Dorow.
Dorow’s early commercials focused on his presiding over the trial of Darrell Brooks Jr., who was found guilty by a jury of killing six people while driving his SUV in a 2021 Christmas parade.
And a conservative group funded by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein, Fair Courts America, launched a $500,000 television ad Friday in support of conservative candidate Dan Kelly. The group’s spokesperson earlier promised to spend millions to support Kelly, a former Supreme Court justice.
The top two voters in the February 21 primary will qualify for the April 4 general election. Early in-person voting began statewide on Tuesday and will continue through Feb. 19. The exact dates and times available to vote vary.
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Protasiewicz and Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell are running as liberals. Kelly and Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow are conservative candidates.
Three of the four candidates are supported by at least one current member of the Supreme Court.
Bradley and Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Dallet, both liberals, endorsed Protasiewicz. Conservative judge Rebecca Bradley endorsed Kelly. And retired conservative judge Patience Roggensack backs Dorow.
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Three current justices did not endorse anyone before the primary: Chief Justice Annette Ziegler, liberal Justice Jill Karofsky and swing conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn.