Minutes before 9 p.m. CDT on Tuesday, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz was announced the winner of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, defeating conservative candidate Dan Kelly.
At her victory speech in Milwaukee, Protasiewicz talked about her experience with Wisconsin’s judicial system and her love for the state, justice and equality.
“Throughout my career I’ve seen our judicial system up close and I believe in something that is universal to Wisconsinites all across our state and that is: everyone should get a fair shot to demand justice–and not feel like the thumb is on the scale against them,” she said.
During his concession speech, Kelly said his opponent was “not worthy” to concede to.
Protasiewicz winning is significant for Democrats across the nation, as The New York Times said the election could determine the fairness of the next presidential election, “shaking up a swing state court that came frighteningly close to overturning the 2020 vote.”
Labor unions had given overwhelming support to Protasiewicz with concerns for issues like right to work laws, prevailing wage laws and Act 10.
Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale said it was Protasiewicz’ track record for equality and fairness that made her a good candidate for the labor union. The AFL-CIO president said the win would put “democracy back in the workplace” and turn the tide for worker’s rights in the state.
“This is democracy at work and it is my belief that this will put democracy back in the workplace. After a decade of punitive legislation that was upheld by an imbalanced Supreme Court, we now have reason to believe that the tide is turning and workers’ rights and voting rights can once again be protected in Wisconsin,” Bloomingdale said in a statement.
The members of open-shop merit-based association Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin were “disappointed,” ABC Political and Legal Director John Schulze told The Daily Reporter.
“ABC members are planners. When they bid on a project, they want to know what the laws are going to be and what the rules are… They would prefer a judge who has a track record of less government and less of the administrative state. If the Legislature passes laws and the governor signs them, those laws should be in effect,” Schulze said.
Wisconsin’s construction industry also had their focus on two more election outcomes: Labor attorney Sarah Geenen’s triumph for Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ District 1 over incumbent Bill Brash, and Dan Knodl’s win in the 8th Senate District over environmental lawyer Jodi Habush-Sinykin.
Geenen described herself as a progressive candidate and had 30 endorsements from labor organizations, Clean Wisconsin and Planned Parenthood.
She told the Wisconsin Law Journal she wanted to become a judge because, “the Legislature is enacting laws that undermine not only democracy, but also the judiciary.”
Knodl was backed by Republicans and served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Steve Schuster contributed to this report.