BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) – Candidates for an open Wisconsin Supreme Court seat are making their final pitches to voters ahead of the primary election next week.
Majorities in the Wisconsin Supreme Court hang in the balance after conservative justice Patience Roggensack announced she would retire. Roggensack had given conservatives a 4-3 majority.
The primary is on February 21 and the two candidates with the highest vote totals will advance to the April 4 election.
Waukesha County judge Jennifer Dorow was in Brown County where she held a press event with local law enforcement officials.
“Bring fairness and impartiality to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I don’t ever want to be seen as prejudging any aspect of a case before a case is even before us,” said Dorow.
Dorow gained nationwide attention when she presided over the trial of Waukesha Christmas parade killer Darrell Brooks. She has earned endorsements from over 100 sheriffs, police chiefs, and prosecutors from across the state. She said her husband served in law enforcement and that she has tremendous respect for the profession.
On Tuesday evening, she participated in a forum at the Town of Lawrence Town Hall alongside fellow conservative candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Daniel Kelly.
Former Governor Scott Walker appointed Kelly to the Supreme Court in 2016. He lost his re-election bid in 2020.
“I’ve already served on the Supreme Court and it was an honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Wisconsin in that capacity,” said Kelly. “I’ve written several landmark opinions on constitutional matters and the body of my work has been cited, quoted, and relied upon.”
Kelly said he’s a proud constitutional conservative and said he’s the only candidate that can make this claim.
Milwaukee County judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dane County judge Everett Mitchell are the liberal candidates on the ballot.
“It’s time for the state of Wisconsin to elect somebody who is fair, impartial, will follow the law, and who is not an extremist, who isn’t partisan and believes in keeping your community safe,” said Protasiewicz.
“I’m not an underdog what I am is a competent leader who is staying in the center so that I can help people feel heard and they can trust in the decisions that are going to come from my court,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell said he has spent his career helping underrepresented groups and that he offers a different perspective than other candidates. He’s spent a large part of his career as a juvenile court judge.
“I’m the only candidate who can bring rural and urban together in a way that allows all voices to be heard,” said Mitchell.
Candidates on both sides have relentlessly accused each other of partisanship and bias. Each candidate has defended their record saying they will make rulings based on the law not on personal feelings or convictions.
“I invite anybody who has any question about how I would function as a Supreme Court justice to go back and look at what I’ve already done because I think that is the best indication of what you will do,” said Kelly.
Protasiewicz has publicly said that the Wisconsin’s voting district maps are rigged and her campaign advertisements say she supports abortion rights. She told Local Five News that it’s important for voters to know where her values lie, but that she’s able to separate from them when ruling on the law.
“Every decision that I’ve ever made has been rooted in the law despite any personal value or thought might be,” said Protasiewicz.