A Donald Trump aide who advised Republicans on legal efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential race has advanced in the Wisconsin state Supreme Court general election, moving him closer to a seat on the powerful bench.
Daniel Kelly is a former state Supreme Court justice in connection with a scheme by associates of the former president to overturn the 2020 election results in Wisconsin through the use of “fake voters.” He was one of two candidates to advance in Tuesday’s state Supreme Court primary, according to projections by the Associated Press.
The other moderate candidate to advance was Janet Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County circuit judge who received the endorsement of the Democratic abortion rights group Emily’s List.
Protasiewicz and Kelly will now face off against each other in the April 4 general election that will determine political control of the court — and, with it, the future of several key issues that could be decided by the bench in the coming years, including Abortion is also included. Rights, elections and gimmicks. The winner of that race is chosen for a period of 10 years.
Although the court and its members are technically nonpartisan, conservatives on the bench hold a 4–3 majority. But with the retirement of conservative Justice Patience Rogensack, that majority now hangs in the balance.
There hasn’t been a liberal majority on the court in 15 years, and Democrats see this election as a prime opportunity to change the balance.
Kelly was one of two Conservative candidates in the primary election; The other is Jennifer Dorough, the Waukesha County circuit judge best known in the state for presiding over the criminal trial of Darrell Brooks, who was convicted last year of killing six people at the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade when he crashed his SUV. Crowd.
Protasiewicz won nearly half the vote on Tuesday, a commanding victory based on Democratic turnout, especially in Milwaukee and Dane counties, which was particularly high for an off-year, down-ballot, winter primary election.
Kelly, on the other hand, only narrowly bested Dorough to finish second, with the two basically dividing the support of voters who turned out for a conservative candidate. Kelly outperformed Dorough in rural counties in the state, while Dorough trailed Kelly in the heavily Republican suburban counties surrounding Milwaukee.
Kelly is a former state Supreme Court justice who lost her seat in the 2020 election to moderate Jill Karofsky. He was appointed to the seat in 2016 by former governor Scott Walker, a Republican. He is linked to associates of Trump through a scheme that was intended to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state through the use of “fake voters”.
In a statement before the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, former Wisconsin GOP chairman Andrew Hitt said that he and Kelly had “extensive conversations” about that plan, and that Milwaukee The Journal Sentinel reported last week that the Republican Party at the state and national levels paid Kelly $120,000 to advise on “election integrity” issues.
A spokesperson for Kelly’s campaign did not respond to questions from NBC News about his involvement in these efforts. Kelly spokesman Jim Dick told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Kelly “believes that Joe Biden is the duly elected President of the United States.” Dick also suggested to the newspaper that Kelly’s beliefs on the election were not aligned with his clients’ beliefs, saying that “it is a maxim in the legal profession that the views of clients are not attributable to those of their attorneys”. “
Kelly, for his part, based his campaign on heavy criticism of Protasiewicz for openly suggesting how he should approach court involving hot-button issues with national ramifications, such as abortion rights, elections and gerrymandering. There is a possibility.
Protasiewicz was one of two liberal candidates in the race (the other was Everett Mitchell, a Dane County circuit judge), and focused much of his campaign on his support of abortion rights. For example, her television commercials emphasized that support: one showed her speaking directly to the camera, “I believe in a woman’s freedom to make her own decision on abortion,” while another showed several women saying that Support support and slogan “extremists” on the other side of the argument.
That issue has taken center stage in the race. A state law that had banned abortion in nearly all cases since 1849 went back into effect after the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision last year.
Gov. Tony Evers, as well as Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, have said they will not enforce the law, and have subsequently filed a lawsuit alleging that the law is unenforceable. The case is expected to eventually make its way before the state Supreme Court, potentially giving the division bench the power to decide on abortion rights in Wisconsin.
Kelly has refrained from saying how he would rule on such a case but it was endorsed by three groups opposing abortion rights.
The court is highly likely to hear various challenges to existing election laws as well as cases related to recounts, absentee ballots and other aspects of election administration that could have a material impact on the outcome of a close election in an ongoing battleground . — including the 2024 presidential election.
For example, in a 4-3 decision last year, the state Supreme Court ruled illegal all ballot drop boxes outside election clerks’ offices — a blow to Democrats in the state, who have issued more liberal rules regarding the boxes. advocated keeping that which arose during the epidemic. Two years ago, the court narrowly upheld the 2020 election results in the state with a 4-3 vote. Court watchers in the state predict similar cases in the future.
Other issues that may come before the state Supreme Court in the coming years include challenges to Act 10, a law enacted by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker who ended collective bargaining for most public employees. It can also hear cases on redrawn legislative maps (the current map, which experts have said is one of the most unregulated in the country, was approved last year by the current state Supreme Court). As in many states, in Wisconsin, if the governor and legislature cannot agree on legislative maps, the matter goes to the state Supreme Court.
The general election contest is on pace to be the costliest state Supreme Court race in Wisconsin history. Candidates and outside groups have already spent more than $9.2 million, an amount that will clearly exceed the record $10 million spent in 2020 through the general election.