Wisconsin Supreme Court 2023

Currently the court is 4-3 with Conservatives in the majority. With a retirement the April election could flip the majority.
Yesterday was the primary – there were two conservative and two liberal justices.
TLDR one each advanced

Candidate votes %
Janet Protasiewicz 445,196 46%
Daniel Kelly 232,29 24%
Jennifer Dorow 209,441 22%
Everett Mitchell 71,768 7%

There have been a lot of Protasiewicz ads, and a fair number of Kelly (mostly from an outiside party) ads.
Dorow is most famous for the trial of the guy who plowed through a Christmas parade. I think she handled the trial well, but that doesn’t mean she would make a good SC justice IMHO.
Although Liberals got more total votes (~53% vs ~46%), I expect the finals to be closer.
I also expect to be drowning in ads.

(as mentioned before I live in MN but get mostly WI TV stations)

I’m a “chief inspector” (person in charge of a voting location) for a purplish (slightly left-leaning) neighborhood in a purple mid-sized city in Wisconsin.

The election went well for our location — a bit more in-person voters than we’d expected, maybe due to some national coverage, as well as the TV ads the OP mentioned.

Some voters were under the impression you could vote for two of the four Supreme Court candidates on the ballot, which wasn’t true (you could only vote for one). We were able to set in-person voters straight, but many absentee ballots had to be counted as “no vote,” because the person had marked two candidates’ ovals. (The instructions on the ballot were clear).

Could you please clarify – which candidates were the Rs and which the Ds? Is the April election now between just Protasiewicz and Kelly?

I’m also from just over the state line (in Illinois) but take a more-than-passing interest in my neighbor’s politics.

Judicial candidates in Wisconsin don’t declare a party affiliation, but Dorow and Kelly are the conservatives/anti-abortion, while Protasiewicz and Mitchell are the liberals/pro choice etc.

My wife was VERY active through our local Unitarian church’s Social Justice wing in getting the information out about the views of each candidate and about the need to vote for one candidate. We’re cautiously pleased with the results thus far, but the push will continue.

Yes, the race is now between Protasiewicz (liberal) and Kelly (conservative).
Officially it is non partisan – in the past it was a bit harder to tell which way a candidate leaned, but this year it is out in the open.
@JKellyMap That mid-sized city did have school board elections, where one COULD vote for more than one (I think) – maybe that was the confusion?


TPM (Talking Points Memo) has been watching this race. Apparently the Republican legislature has placed a couple of right-leaning ballot initiatives on the April general election ballot in an effort to goose GOP turnout.


In the previous Wis Supreme Court race, Democratic turnout was increased due to the Presidential primary on the same day (Republicans wanted the elections split, but that would have been a major expense/bother)

ETA – maybe not the most recent election – I can’t find which one

That’s correct, neighbor! Yes, that might have been a factor. (I’m in La Crosse, and I can just about see Brian across the icy Mississippi River).

Assuming that the ads do their job to inform voters about the candidates leanings, this election is probably going to be viewed by most as a defacto referendum on abortion rights, which will in all likelihood bode well for Protasiewicz.

Is that situation uncommon there? Here (NYState, location also in my avatar) it’s extremely common to, on the same ballot, have both races in which one votes for only one candidate (state, federal, and some local races) and others in which one votes for any two, three, or four (generally local races.) I don’t remember ever hearing of any significant confusion caused by this; but maybe we’re used to it and people in Wisconsin aren’t?

It is certainly common in MN that there is school board/city council where one can vote for multiple folks, but also races where you can vote for only one. I think it is the same in WI.
Maybe first time voters? (La Crosse is a college town)


What difference should her view on abortion make? Judges are to interpret the exisiting laws on the books. Abortion is illegal in Wi until the law is changed. She can’t change the law.

She can rule that the current anti-abortion law violates the state constitution. (if there is an argument for that)

IIRC there have been laws since the one written in ~1850 (!) and the argument is the newer (less strict again IIRC) laws supersede the old one.


There is a lot of wiggle room around “when the life of the woman is in danger”.

From that article:

Who would like to work in an environment where, case-by-case, you could go to jail for trying to care for one’s patients?

Not me! I’m glad I’m retired. I broke the law often enough during my career, when the state law forbade continuing trans men on their hormones and spironolactone while incarcerated. I kept them on those meds, per the standard of medical care for their diagnosed conditions.

Fortunately that law got overturned by a federal court

Tell that to SCOTUS.

In my mostly-red county, Protasiewicz was heavily the favorite of all four, which I think is heartening. And the turnout for this non-presidential election was much higher than usual; I’m not sure what that means, bias-wise.

However, if you ignore Mitchell, who seems to have been a non-issue, and combine both Republican vote totals (statewide), the Republican vs. Democrat votes are exactly the same. Maybe the Republican voters split their votes, but the Demos didn’t.

We carried Wisconsin Eye (PBS-type network) candidate forums (more like 1:1 interviews) on the local cable TV station frequently. They were able to get 3 of the 4 to sit down and talk, but Dorow (R) either declined or wasn’t available.

Looking at the pundit commentaries, it was obvious to me that the two Republicans held typical Republican views; the Democrats, Democrat views. And yes, opinions on trans rights, women’s rights, etc. ARE important even if no relevant case is currently pending.