Protasiewicz and Kelly Advance in Crucial Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

1 month ago Decision Desk HQ

Well, the trend continues.

Ever since last June, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe and ruled there was no Constitutional right to abortion, Democrats have been outperforming expectations in elections. 

This held true in every special election contest in the run-up to the midterms, in the midterms themselves, and now in the first major special elections of 2023.

The most high-profile race last night was the Supreme Court primary in Wisconsin. As I detailed in my candidate run-down, Republicans hold a one-seat majority on the Court and a win here will allow Democrats to flip control in this vital toss-up state.

This race consisted of four contenders, two Democrats and two Republicans (although they aren’t officially listed as such), vying for two spots in the April 4th general election.

Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz, who had the most money and Democratic establishment support going into the contest, finished far ahead of the other candidates with 437,700 votes (46.39%).

In the battle for the second spot, the pair of Republican-aligned candidates finished with former Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly and his 228,625 votes (24.23%) edging out Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow and her 206,278 votes (21.86%).

Kelly will try to avenge his 2020 defeat, where he lost by ten and a half points during the early days of COVID. 

In addition to the Supreme Court race, Wisconsin also held primaries for a special election in the 8th Senate District, a Republican seat in the Milwaukee suburbs. Democratic candidate Jodi Sinykin ran unopposed, while State Rep. Dan Knodl won the GOP primary.

Knodl beat fellow State Rep. Janel Brandtjen by a 56.84% to 27.93% margin.

Such a result is a bit of set-back for Wisconsin Democrats, as they were trying to bait Republicans into nominating the more-extreme Brandtjen. 

Finally, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway secured 60.04% in her bid to secure a second term. Former Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes finished second with 28.10% and will advance from this nonpartisan primary.

Both of these contests will also be decided on April 4th.

Virginia’s 4th Congressional District Special

All the while, there was also a special Congressional election in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Back on November 28th, incumbent Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin passed away from cancer. McEachin represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which consists of the capital city of Richmond and extends down to the North Carolina border. 

VA-4 is a D+16 seat, so the Democratic nominee was always going to be the favorite. Indeed nominee Jennifer McClellan, with her seventeen years of state legislative experience, easily prevailed over 2020 and 2022 Republican nominee Leon Benjamin. 

With nearly all the precincts in, McClellan received 80,751 votes (74.29%) compared to Benjamin’s 27,941 votes (25.71%). McClellan actually managed to outperform Rep. McEachin, who defeated Benjamin by only a 64.9% to 34.9% margin back in November. 

Kentucky and New Hampshire

Lastly, there were two more special elections last night, one each in Kentucky and New Hampshire. 

In Kentucky, voters in Louisville were filling the vacant State Senate seat left by new Congressman Morgan McGarvey. Democratic nominee Cassie Chambers Armstrong easily defeated Republican Misty Glin by a 77.10% to 22.90% margin.

Then up in New Hampshire, voters in Strafford County’s 8th State House District had the rare opportunity to rerun a race a second time. After Democrat Chuck Grassie and Republican David Walker tied with exactly 970 votes each last November, the state decided to hold another contest. 

This time, Grassie prevailed with 568 votes (55.74%) over Walker’s 451 votes (44.26%). Grassie’s victory leaves the GOP with a razor-thin 201-199 majority in the New Hampshire State House.

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