Supreme Court Candidates Kelly, Protasiewicz Win Primary

In Wisconsin’s spring primary, held February 21, four candidates were on the ballot for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Former Justice Daniel Kelly, a judicial conservative, and Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a judicial liberal, were the top two vote-getters. They will face off in the general election on April 4.

Over 958,000 votes were cast this year, a record number for a state supreme court primary. The results were as follows:

  • Janet Protasiewicz: 46.4%
  • Daniel Kelly: 24.2%
  • Jennifer Dorow: 21.9%
  • Everett Mitchell: 7.5%

Currently, judicial conservatives enjoy a 4-3 majority on Wisconsin’s elected supreme court. Justice Patience Roggensack, a judicial conservative, is retiring at the end of her term on July 31, leaving an open seat which will decide the ideological balance of the court for several years. Because of this, the race is hotly contested, attracting a significant amount of attention. Some Wisconsin commentators and activists have estimated that campaign spending by the candidates and outside groups will total tens of millions of dollars by the end of the race.

From the beginning of 2022 through early February, according to the most recent available campaign finance reports, former Justice Kelly raised about $414,000. Fair Courts America, a conservative political action committee supported by businessman and Republican donor Dick Uihlein, has also promised to spend millions of dollars supporting Kelly’s campaign.

Judge Protasiewicz raised nearly $1.65 million over the same period, more than all of her primary opponents combined. More than a dozen individuals have donated the maximum of $20,000 to her campaign.

For more information about the April 4 election, see the following articles:

For additional coverage of this year’s supreme court race, see the following articles: