Wisconsin Supreme Court Election Ads Hit the Airwaves

by Benjamin Yount


Campaign ads are headed back to TVs across Wisconsin ahead of the election for a seat on the State Supreme Court.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz’ campaign on Friday announced a $700,000 ad buy in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She’s one of four challengers trying to land the seat held by Justice Pat Roggensack, who has said she will not seek reelection.

Officially, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is nonpartisan; observers consider it 4-3 conservative, and it was considered 5-2 conservative before the 2020 election. Roggensack is considered a conservative justice, making the Feb. 21 primary and April 4 election between the top two vote-getters from the primary a battle for ideological control.

Protasiewicz is up against former State Supreme Court Judge Dan Kelly, Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow and Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell. Kelly and Dorow are considered conservative, Mitchell and Protasiewicz liberal.

“Our campaign strategy has always been to heavily communicate with voters statewide about Judge Janet’s approach to bring change to the Supreme Court – away from the hyper-partisanship and extremism demonstrated recently by the court,” Protasiewicz’s campaign manager Alejandro Verdin said in a statement.

The $700,000 for the ads comes from the nearly $1 million that Protasiewicz raised last year.

Campaign finance reports that were released this month show Protasiewicz with the strongest war chest. She raised $924,349 in 2022, including $756,117 in the last six months of the year.

Kelly has raised $312,359, Dorow $306,919, and Mitchell $115,689. Campaign finance records, according to Ballotpedia, show available balances on Dec. 31 were $734,962 for Prostasiewicz, $283,172 for Dorow and $276,554 for Kelly; the Mitchell campaign was $72,162 in the hole.

The most recent filing period gathered information from July 1 to Dec. 31.

The numbers do not include satellite spending, which is political spending not controlled by candidates or their campaigns. This can include political party committees, super PACs, trade associations, and 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups.

In November, a spokesman for Fair Courts America said it was “committed to spending millions of dollars” to help return Kelly to the bench.

All of the candidates participated in a Jan. 9 forum hosted by WisPolitics.

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Benjamin Yount is a contributor to The Center Square.
Photo “Janet Protasiewicz” by Janet for Justice. Background Photo “Wisconsin Supreme Court” by Royalbroil. CC BY-SA 3.0.


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