Wisconsin Supreme Court race: Kelly, Protasiewicz advance to April election

A liberal Milwaukee judge and a conservative former state Supreme Court justice won Tuesday’s primary to face off in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race that will determine majority control.

Liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Justice Dan Kelly advanced to the April 4 general election. Conservatives currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court.

Conservatives have controlled the court for 15 years, but an open seat this year gives liberals a chance to take over the majority with issues like abortion access, gerrymandered legislative districts and voting rights heading into the 2024 presidential election at stake.

RELATED: Wisconsin primary election results

The court came within one vote of overturning President Joe Biden’s win in the state in 2020, and both major parties are preparing for another close margin in 2024. With so much on the line, spending on the Wisconsin Supreme Court race this year is expected to shatter national spending records for supreme court contests.

Kelly held off a challenge on the right from Waukesha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Dorow, who gained national attention for presiding over the trial last year of a man convicted of killing six people when he drove his SUV through a Waukesha Christmas parade.

Kelly cast himself as the only tested conservative in the race.

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Democrats coalesced around Protasiewicz over Dane County Circuit Judge Everett Mitchell, allowing her to break fundraising records and secure hundreds of endorsements.