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Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly at the Capitol in Madison on May 15, 2019.
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly at the Capitol in Madison in 2019.Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal via AP file

Justice Dan Kelly launches his first ad of Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign

The ad features sheriffs from across the state attacking Kelly's opponent, Judge Janet Protasiewicz, for her judicial record in Milwaukee County.


MADISON, Wis. — Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly has released his first campaign ad of the general election to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat where the ideological balance of the court is at stake.

The commercial features law enforcement officers and calls his opponent, Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz a "politician, not a judge."

"We can't afford judges who put their own agenda above the law," Eric Severson, the Waukesha County Sheriff, says in the spot.

"It's time we start prioritizing justice again, not politics," Severson adds.

In a press release, Kelly's campaign accused Protasiewicz of giving violent offenders "little to no" prison time in her role as a county judge.

Crime has become a focal point in the race, especially on the airwaves. Protasiewicz has also run ads accusing Kelly of being soft on crime for the work he did as a defense attorney.

This is Kelly's first ad buy of the general election. He's spent $53,000 on the airwaves so far, and has reserved $107,000 worth of additional ad time through April 4 -- Election Day -- per AdImpact, an ad tracking firm.

Protasiewicz, however, has already spent $5.8 million on the airwaves. She's reserved an additional $4 million worth of airtime through Election Day. Other outside allies have helped her effort too, and Everytown for Gun Safety just announced a $500,000 ad campaign that includes an ad attacking Kelly on gun rights and abortion.

While Kelly hasn't spent up until now, he's had outside help. Two outside groups —WMC Issues Mobilization Council and Fair Courts America — have already spent a combined $5.1 million in favor of Kelly since the February 21 primary. Those two groups have reserved a combined $898,000 worth of additional airtime.