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Judges Jennifer Doro and Janet Protasiewicz.
Judges Jennifer Doro and Janet Protasiewicz.Dorow for WI Supreme Court; Protasiewicz for WI Supreme Court

Wisc. Supreme Court race goes over $6 million in ad spending

The race to determine's the court's balance of power features four candidates in a non-partisan primary Tuesday.


With less than a week to go before the primary in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race, over $6 million has already been spent on TV ads by groups and candidates on both sides of the aisle.

The race features four candidates — two who are considered liberals and two running as conservatives — and voters will select two candidates in Tuesday's non-partisan primaries, two of whom will move forward to the April 4 general election. The seat was opened up after conservative justice Patience Roggensack announced her retirement.

Spending on both sides of the aisle so far is fairly even, with Democratic and liberal groups having spent $3.2 million and Republican and conservative groups having spent $2.8 million, according to AdImpact.

The race has drawn unprecedented levels of national attention, with national groups like EMILY’s List and a PAC linked to the Women's March even endorsing a candidate.

Only two candidates — Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Waukesha County Court Judge Jennifer Dorow — have spent money on their own TV ads.

In her ads, Dorow describes herself as “law enforcement’s choice” and touts her record of overseeing the trial of a man who was convicted of killing six people when he drove into a Waukesha Christmas parade in 2021.

In her ads, Protasiewicz touts herself as a less extreme option than others and promotes her views on abortion, which favor expanded abortion rights in the state.

Protasiewicz has also run ads attacking Dorow, specifically referencing an ad from an outside group called Wisconsin Alliance for Reform that alleged Protasiewicz gave a soft sentence to a man convicted of raping a minor.

In her ad, Protasiewicz defended herself, claiming she spent “​​25 years as a prosecutor, locking up dangerous criminals,” and that Dorow and the other conservative in the race, Dan Kelly, worked as private defense attorneys, “[getting rich] defending predators for child sex crimes and pornography.”

So far, a conservative group called Fair Courts America has spent the most on ads in the race, with $1.6 million already spent. Protasiewicz has spent the second-most, with over $1.5 million spent on the airwaves so far. And, a liberal group called A Better Wisconsin Together has also spent $1.5 million on TV ads.

Dorow’s campaign has spent $360,000 on her TV ads and Alliance for Reform has also spent aout $360,000 on their ads.