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Wisconsin Supreme Court Hopeful Daniel Kelly Says His Campaign Is About Constitutional Faithfulness

Courtesy of Daniel Kelly
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed to the bench in 2015 by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin’s presidential primary and spring elections will be held next Tuesday, April 7. Two hopefuls are vying for a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court. Conservative incumbent Daniel Kelly faces a challenge from Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky, who is supported by Democrats. Although the position is officially non-partisan, the court currently has a 5-2 conservative majority. Democrats are hoping to narrow that lead to 4-3 if Karofsky wins.

We've interviewed both candidates.

>>Meet The 2020 Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidates
>>Jill Karofsky Says Courts Need To Focus On 'Real People'

Here's a portion of our latest interview with Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2016:

How has the coronavirus changed your approach to campaigning? 

“It’s pretty much an online effort now. We’re doing this through social media, phone calls, and virtual town halls. Always looking for new ways we can spread our message of constitutional faithfulness all across this state. Every day seems like it’s a new day. We want to make sure our volunteers are not putting themselves at risk, and we want to make sure the people of Wisconsin are not put at risk through the campaign’s efforts. We are taking every precaution we can and we are still looking for new and innovative ways to get our message of constitutional faithfulness around the state,” says Kelly.

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson spoke with incumbent Daniel Kelly, who is running for a 10-year term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Is it hard to get people to pay attention to this race when the coronavirus is getting so much attention?

“You look at the news sites and everything is all about coronavirus. It seems to be filling the airwaves, it’s all over the websites. That is a matter of obviously immediate concern to everyone in the state and really around the world, so that’s understandably taking up their attention," Kelly says. "But we do have an election coming up and we need to make sure folks take a little bit of time to consider who they want on their Supreme Court for the next 10 years. It’s a pretty significant decision to make, though I am confident that our fellow Wisconsinites will turn to this and put in the effort necessary to make a good and intelligent choice."

>>Kelly Touts Ability To 'Apply The Law' In Wisconsin Supreme Court Bid

What issues are you talking about with voters? 

“It’s really talking about the proper relationship between the people of Wisconsin and the governments that they create and maintain. So, my understanding is that the authority to create and maintain governments belongs to us. They don’t give it away, they don’t sell it, they don’t alienate it in any way and yet, I exercise some of their authority on their behalf. That’s because they’ve loaned it to me. So we have created a Constitution and in that Constitution, they have loaned some of their native authority to me to exercise on their behalf. So we talk about what the nature of that authority is and how that gets exercised in deciding the cases that come before [the Supreme Court],” says Kelly.

What do you want to know about the 2020 elections and the DNC convention? Submit your questions below.


Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
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