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Wisconsin voters tee up battle for state Supreme Court majority in tense open primary

The court is likely to preside over major cases involving both abortion and election integrity, meaning the stakes of the contest have significant ramifications for the nation as a whole.

Published: February 21, 2023 8:35pm

Updated: February 22, 2023 6:46am

Wisconsin voters on Tuesday set up a general election for a pivotal seat on the state's Supreme Court, which may decide on major issues affecting the nation amid divided government in Madison.

The Associated Press declared liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz's advancement to the April 4 general election early in the evening after she took nearly half the total vote and placed far ahead of fellow liberal candidate Everett Mitchell. Conservative candidate Daniel Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice, came in second and will face Protasiewicz for the seat in the April 4 general election. 

Conservatives hold a narrow 4-3 majority on the state's official non-partisan top bench, NBC News noted. The impending retirement of Justice Patience Roggensack, however, presents an opening in which an additional liberal justice would swing the court's ideological bent. 

The four candidates competed in an open primary to narrow the field to two for the general election. Theoretically, two ideologically-aligned candidates could have progressed to the general election. The ultimate winner will serve for a 10-year term.

The court is likely to preside over major cases involving both abortion and election integrity, meaning the stakes of the contest have significant ramifications for the nation as a whole.

The traditionally battleground state currently has a Democratic governor, Tony Evers, and sizeable Republican majorities in the legislature.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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