The one and only debate in this year’s record-setting expensive Wisconsin Supreme Court race saw the two candidates often attack each other’s honesty.
Liberal Janet Protasiewicz and conservative Dan Kelly often accused the other of hypocrisy in their campaigns, with Kelly focusing on Protasiewicz’s sentencing history as a Milwaukee County judge.
News 3 Now and WisPolitics on March 21 presented the hour-long debate, which can be viewed here.
Kelly often returned to Protasiewicz’s perceived penchant for light sentences (documented here) for violent offenders, comparing it to her promise to help keep Wisconsin safe. He presented the case of a man who raped a 15-year-old.
“Came to you for sentencing, you said no prison time at all because ‘COVID,'” Kelly said. “There’s no way that ‘COVID’ provides a get-out-of-jail-free card for a man who raped a woman.”
Protasiewicz called it an outright lie and that during sentencing, she evaluates all pertinent factors – like the serious nature of the crime, the need to protect the public and the character of the defendant.
“My entire life has been rooted in protecting our community,” she said. “I haven’t sentenced hundreds but I’ve sentenced thousands of people and it’s interesting a handful of cases have been cherry-picked and selected and twisted and insufficient facts have been provided to the electorate.
“I would not have been in homicide and sexual assault for three years if the parties, the people, the community and the rest of my colleagues didn’t think i was handing down sufficient sentences to protect the community.”
Protasiewicz added that sexual assault sentencing is often difficult because victims frequently don’t come to court and often recant their allegations.
April 4’s election will conclude the most expensive state Supreme Court race in U.S. history and determine whether Wisconsin’s Supreme Court will have a liberal or conservative majority.
Democrats on the coasts, as well as billionaire George Soros, have taken an interest in a liberal majority to preserve abortion rights, as well as for other key issues – like next year’s Presidential election and possible litigation after in the swing state.
On the spending, Kelly, a former state Supreme Court justice who is not accepting funds from the state Republican Party, said, “We have a First Amendment for a very good reason. I don’t resent at all an organization trying to keep me from coming to our Supreme Court. This is what the Constitution protects.”
However, he says the millions of dollars Protasiewicz has taken from the Democrat Party of Wisconsin is a “major problem going forward.”
“If she were to be elected to the Supreme Court she would forever afterwards be known as being bought and paid for by the Democrat Party of Wisconsin,” he said.
One of his final attacks on Protasiewicz came on remarks made during the sentencing of a man who raped his 14-year-old cousin while she slept, to which Protasiewicz responded she would like to see the full transcript because it didn’t sound like something she would do. Twitter users posted an excerpt of the transcript of the sentencing hearing, during which she said, “Are you a danger to the public? I don’t think so. I mean, I don’t think you did anything other than engage in a crime of opportunity and hopefully you’ve learned your lesson.”
She gave the man a 14-month prison sentence, which Kelly called “paltry” considering the victim’s testimony of how the crime impacted her life.