An extremist group ran fearmongering anti-trans ads to promote a judicial candidate. He just lost.

Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly
Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly Photo: Screenshot

On Tuesday, liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz won her race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, prevailing over conservative opponent Dan Kelly. As a result, liberals have a majority on the court for the first time in 15 years.

Despite the fact that the key issues in the race were abortion and redistricting, rather than trans rights, Protasiewicz faced vicious anti-trans attacks throughout her campaign from a far-right extremist group called the American Principles Project, which purports itself as “America’s Top Defender of the Family.”

The American Principles Project PAC reportedly spent almost $800,000 on ads and text messages supporting Kelly and accusing Protasiewicz of trying to turn kids transgender.

According to Wisconsin Watch, one text from an unknown number that included an American Principles Project video said Protasiewicz is “endorsed by all the woke activists that are stripping parents of their rights in Wisconsin schools and forcing transgenderism down our throats.”

Others said, “Protasiewicz and her woke allies want to TRANS our children without notifying parents” and have accused the woke left” of having an “unending thirst to trans our children.”

A video ad from the organization also claimed, “Extreme groups endorsing Janet Protasiewicz want to take away parental rights and impose trans ideology on our kids.”

The ads communicate that Kelly did not explicitly endorse the message, but in his concession speech on Tuesday – and in what seems to be a growing pattern of Republican sore losers – he made his feelings about Protasiewicz clear.

“I wish that in a circumstance like this I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent. But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede.”

He called her campaign “dishonorable,” “despicable,” and “beneath contempt” and claimed Wisconsin voters chose “the rule of Janet” over “the rule of law.”

It was the most costly state supreme court race in U.S. history, one that centered largely on abortion rights (Protasiewicz was in favor, Kelly was not).

With 99% of the vote in, according to Politico, Protasiewicz beat Kelly with 55.5% to his 44.5%. Protasiewicz ‘s victory means the court has a higher chance of overturning Wisconsin’s archaic and strict abortion ban, implemented before the Civil War. It also means Wisconsin’s legislative maps could be redrawn after years of Republican gerrymandering.

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