"Arguably the most important election in America in 2023" -- New York Times, January 2023
WE DID IT! With your help, we were part of a HUGE grassroots effort to support WisDems organizing to bring Judge Janet Protasiewicz to victory.
Our favorite battleground state did not wait until 2024 to have all eyes on the outcome of this election and they showed us that we can win again next year! And "Judge Janet" won not by 1 point...but by 11 points! Which, in Wisconsin, is a landslide. Janet Protasiewicz's victory proves the impact of people power. It took tens of thousands people coming together, contributing what they could, to elect her to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. For the first time in 15 years, the court has a liberal majority and can start to dismantle the legacy of Scott Walker and the GOP in the state.
This important election on April 4th determined the balance of power in its state Supreme Court and will impact everything from abortion rights, gerrymandering, and the 2024 election. The NYT rdescribed this race as "A Colossal Off-Year Election" and Politico called it one of the four big election storylines for 2023. Throughout March & April, our focus was on supporting progressive candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz, who, as one of the top two candidates in the primary in February, continued on to the general election. Although she had the most primary votes overall, the votes from the losing conservative candidate shifted to her opponent, making this race extremely tight. And the GOP poured millions of right-wing dark money into this race, so we needed to work just as hard as we did in 2020 and 2022 to win in Wisconsin again.
Why Is This Election Important?
Before the election, conservatives controlled the state's supreme court by a 4-3 majority, but with the conservative Chief Justice retiring, we had the opportunity to flip the court and make real progress for Wisconsinites. Conservatives on the state Supreme Court have handed down some of the most damaging voting rights decisions nationwide just in the past year (anyone remember ballot dropboxes or the abandonment of fairer maps?).
And after Joe Biden’s victory in 2020, the court was a hair's breadth from throwing out hundreds of thousands of validly-cast ballots and flipping the state to Donald Trump—that didn’t happen only because one conservative justice voted with the progressives on the court to uphold the fundamental democratic premise that all legally voted ballots should count. So, a more progressive court will also help protect voting rights in 2024, which will have national implications on the outcome of the next Presidential Election. This was our chance to secure a progressive majority -- and we did it!
Who Is The Progressive Candidate?
Progressive candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated conservative ex-Justice Daniel Kelly, a former member of Wisconsin's State Supreme Court. In 2020, Kelly was previously defeated by current Justice Jill Karofsky. Protasiewicz, a circuit court judge in Milwaukee with 35 years of experience in law, won 46% of the vote in the primary in a four-way contest, which is promising--but conservatives were aware of the importance of this race and threw major resources behind Kelly. So we had to pull out all the stops to educate Wisconsin voters and get them to vote...and we did! Liberal judge Janet Protasiewicz won 55.5% of the vote to gain a seat on Wisconsin's state Supreme Court, flipping the body's ideological majority. This was a HUGE win not just for Wisconsin, but for the nation and gives us great hope and motivation for winning again in 2024.
Learn more about Janet Protasiewicz on her website, janetforjustice.com.
What Did We Do?
There are many ways we helped out -- virtually and in person -- by making calls, sending texts, writing postcards, registering voters and canvassing.
WI Voter Protection work was once again at the forefront of the fight for democracy in Wisconsin, and we helped out by making calls to recruit poll observers. And IL residents could also sign up to be poll observers ourselves (different than poll workers who have to be WI residents), as well as work the Voter Protection Hotline. Click here to find up more SIGN UP as a WI Voter Protection Volunteer.
We did all we could to make sure WI voters are registered and ready to vote and help flip the state Supreme Court! You could take action from home or in person, there's something for everyone. Here's a sample of all we did leading up to election day (and much more was done in the weeks and months before):
Final Push to Election Day! 4/3-4
4: Wisconsin Supreme Court Election
Mailing deadline was 3/28/23 -- our 50,000 postcard campaign is now complete!
We helped WisDems elect Janet Protasiewicz, which now means that Wisconsin can turn this around and help return reason and fairness to their state Supreme Court. In a non-presidential (or even Midterm!) election year, it's hard to get good election turnout, so our focus was helping to get Democrats to the polls. Our efforts to remind people to vote DID make a BIG difference in Wisconsin. So thank you to everyone who volunteered!
Next up in Wisconsin? Helping to re-elect Senator Tammy Baldwin in 2024, as well as re-electing President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and regain House seats. We will be posting updates about how we can help out as we get them from the WisDems!