Economic expert speaks on Wisconsin’s record-breaking Supreme Court race

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 8:14 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- The results are in for the Wisconsin spring election.

One of the most closely-watched races in the nation carries major implications.

Democratic-backed judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated Dan Kelly in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Protasiewicz gives liberals a 4-3 advantage in the state supreme court.

She won with 55% of the vote.

That race happened to be the most expensive judicial race in U.S. history.

“This one is so important, partly because it really has national implications, with Wisconsin being a swing state, so it’s not surprising that so much money would be focused on this election specifically,” said Monica Haynes, the Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at UMD.

Haynes said the polarizing politics in the state when it comes to issues like the 1849 abortion law and district voting maps drew voters to the polls and aided in record campaign spending.

“I’m sure it had an impact because I think it just raised the awareness of the importance of this election,” Haynes said.

The court has had a conservative majority for the last 15 years, but with Protasiewicz’s win, it will now swing more liberally.

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign tracks political spending in the state.

According to a report it released one day before the election, Protasiewicz and her backers spent about $23.3 million, compared with about $17.6 million spent by Dan Kelly and his supporters.

“A huge proportion of the spending is coming from external sources, not from within the state, national lobbying campaigns and progressive or conservative-leaning groups that are trying to influence the results of the election,” Haynes said.

The more than $42 million spent on this race is nearly triple the previous national record for a court race.