Janet Protasiewicz, Dan Kelly to Face Off in High-Stakes Wisconsin Supreme Court Election

The stage for Wisconsin’s pivotal April Supreme Court election is set after Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly emerged as the top two vote-getters in Tuesday’s four-way primary.

With 94 percent of precincts reporting as of 10:40 p.m., unofficial results reported by the Associated Press showed Protasiewicz with 46 percent of the vote followed by Kelly with 24 percent. Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow came in third with 22 percent of the vote, followed by Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell with about 8 percent.

Tuesday’s results place Protasiewicz and Kelly on a collision course toward what will be one of the most closely watched elections in the country this year. While the race is officially nonpartisan, Protasiewicz is backed by Democrats and Kelly by Republicans.

The campaign is expected to shatter spending records for a Wisconsin Supreme Court race, and it could quite possibly break the national spending record for a state supreme court contest.

The prize attracting so much attention is a ten-year term on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court, where the winner will decide the high court’s ideological balance. A Kelly victory would preserve the court’s 4-3 conservative edge, while a Protasiewicz win would give liberals a majority for the first time since 2008.