Updated Wednesday at 12:02 p.m. CT
Voters chose Jill Karofsky and incumbent Daniel Kelly to advance to the Wisconsin general election in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race. On April 7, voters will decide which one will earn a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court. The presidential primary is the same day.
Kelly won about half the vote, while Karofsky picked up roughly 37%. Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone finished third with 13%.
If Fallone's supporters now switch to Karofsky, the April election could be very close — given that both Karofsky and Fallone had endorsements from left of center groups, while Kelly had conservative backing.
Kelly acknowledged that much during his victory speech Tuesday night in Okauchee, adding in the factor of what's expected to be a high turnout of Democrats for the Wisconsin presidential primary.
"This is going to be a big lift. There was a lot of work that went into the results we have experienced this evening. But the number of people who are going to turn out on April 7, is going to be many, many times what it was tonight,” Kelly said.
He told the news media that he plans to continue to try to show that he and Karofsky have differing judicial philosophies. Kelly says the people of Wisconsin are only loaning him authority.
"They tell me they want me to exercise judicial power. Not the legislative. Just the judicial. So, when I look at a case, it's all about being faithful to the Constitutional text," Kelly said.
Kelly says Karofsky would bring more politics to the court. But in a phone interview with WUWM, Karofsky repeated what she's been saying during the campaign: that Kelly is beholden to conservative politicians.
"People want their Supreme Court back on track. They don't want a Supreme Court that feels like corruption. And when we focus on my experience, and my Wisconsin values, and my toughness, that is something that really resonates with people,” Karofsky said.
And Karofsky will have Ed Fallone on her side. His campaign released a statement Wednesday morning, asking his supporters not to rest until Kelly is defeated on April 7.
Fallone says, "Kelly’s agenda is to overturn any prior precedent that he personally disagrees with, and to leave us with Dan Kelly’s Constitution, where our rights are defined according to Dan Kelly’s morality. This cannot stand."
Tuesday night, Kelly told his gathering that Fallone is a good and thoughtful man, who cares deeply about his community, the state and the courts.
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