Wisconsin Supreme Court race heats up as gun safety group launches $500K ad

Gun Rights

The largest United States gun safety organization is the latest group to give its input in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race ahead of the general election, releasing a $500,000 ad targeting the conservative candidate in the contentious race.

Everytown for Gun Safety, a giant nonprofit group among gun control activists, is releasing a 30-second ad called “Know,” aimed at the “too extreme” policies of conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly. Kelly is facing liberal Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, whose win could upset the court’s conservative majority. Both candidates were the top vote-getters in their respective primaries.


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The ad claims Kelly “opposed background checks on all gun sales,” pointing to a 2017 decision that made it easier for “dangerous people” to carry guns in public. The campaign also claims Kelly “worked for a radical anti-abortion group,” showing clips from protests that occurred after the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

“Here’s what you don’t know,” the ad narrator says. “Banning abortion. Putting our communities at risk. Dan Kelly is too extreme for our Supreme Court.”

The ad aired in Milwaukee and Madison media markets on Monday, hoping to influence the race to replace Judge Patience Roggensack, who votes with the 4-3 conservative majority and is retiring after 20 years. Several cases, such as abortion access, are making their way through the Supreme Court, and Democrats view this race as an opportunity to reshape Wisconsin’s judicial system and state law.

Kelly authored a decision in 2017 that barred the city of Madison from banning guns on public transportation under the state’s concealed carry law. The NRA endorsed Kelly in 2020, and the announcement highlighted his opposition to background checks, which Everytown sourced for its claims.

“Dan Kelly wants to make it harder for women to make their own reproductive choices and easier for criminals to get their hands on guns — both of which are terrible for the health and safety of Wisconsinites,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “With the U.S. Supreme Court having opened the door to the arguments of gun rights extremists, it’s more important than ever for us to elect state judges who respect the right to take common-sense steps to prevent gun violence.”

Several groups have entered the race and pledged astronomical amounts to their chosen candidate. Planned Parenthood pledged a seven-figure donation to Protasiewicz in the general election, while anti-abortion rights groups, such as Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and Students for Life, are throwing support behind Kelly.

The contest, which will take place on April 4, is shaping up to be the most expensive state Supreme Court race in history. The current record is held by Illinois for the 2004 race that cost $15 million. Close to $10 million was spent in the Wisconsin primary election, surpassing the state record of $10.4 million for the entire campaign.


Protasiewicz and Kelly reported nearly identical cash-on-hand balances as of Feb. 6, with both raising more money than their competitors.

The Washington Examiner reached out to Kelly’s campaign for comment on the ad’s release.

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