UPDATE: 12/05/2022 Dan Kelly responded to Mark Belling three days after he made the statement in the AP article. In fairness, I have included the letter at the end of this article. Judge for yourself if it’s enough or not.
For the first time in many years, we officially have the rare situation where two Judicial Conservatives are running for an open Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, in something less rare these days, it looks like a sense of ‘entitlement’ is creeping in and the attacks from one camp are already beginning.
Sadly, Dan Kelly and his campaign team, are bringing out that tired old entitlement playbook, by going scorched earth against any Conservative opposition who dares compete against their chosen candidate.
Ever since WISN’s Mark Belling raised the speculation of Judge Jennifer Dorow running for Wisconsin Supreme Court, the all too familiar Walker ‘spin machine’ has been running full speed ahead.
It started a few weeks ago with circulating four or five cherry-picked cases to create the false perception that Dorow is a ‘low bail’, ‘soft on crime’ Liberal. And now that Jennifer Dorow has officially entered the race, Dan Kelly is basically calling Dorow ‘unqualified’ to be on the Supreme Court. What?
In an Associated Press article, Dan Kelly said the only reason Jennifer Dorow got in the race was because of the Parade Killer case (I refuse to say his name). Kelly said, ‘I’m struggling to think of any other reason that she would believe she would be a qualified candidate for the Supreme Court.’
That’s a bold move to diminish Dorow’s stature in the wake of such a nationally known, high-profile case, but not very politically savvy. What makes it worse, it’s completely false. More on that later.
This negativity is beneath Dan Kelly and completely unnecessary.
Justice Kelly should focus on his strengths. He should be touting that he already sat on the Supreme Court. He’s a known commodity. Since he was appointed, he has amassed a solid Judicial Conservative record. Over the years he has proven to be a man of unwavering dedication to the US and Wisconsin Constitutions. He is also known as a man of impeccable character both on and off the bench.
Unfortunately, Kelly took a shellacking in his re-election bid in 2020. Of course, this was right during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was also the beginning of the first attempt by the Democrats to try mail-in balloting. On top of that, because the legislature and Gov Walker failed to change the date, there was a Democrat Presidential Primary on the same day. Thanks a lot.
Something of note, Jill Karofsky was a circuit court judge (just like Dorow), and she beat Dan Kelly in 2020. And there is a precedent of Circuit Court Judges being elected to the Supreme court, including Conservative Justice Annette Ziegler.
Dan Kelly himself didn’t have any Circuit Court or Court of Appeals experience when Walker appointed him. That’s why going after Dorow’s experience as a ‘negative’ is perplexing.
Jennifer Dorow is extremely well qualified to be on the Supreme Court. For starters, she has experience as a trial Judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney. She’s seen the justice system from all sides. Dorow has been involved in thousands of cases over the years. She was also appointed by Scott Walker and was re-elected twice in crucial Waukesha County. On top of being a Waukesha Circuit Court Judge, she also serves as Chief Judge for Wisconsin’s 3rd District.
I would be remiss to ignore the impact that the Christmas Parade case had on her status as a viable candidate. It truly gave people a public look into how she manages her courtroom and applies the law. It also showed that even though the defendant’s actions were unhinged at times, she insured he was given his Constitutional right to a fair trial.
It was hardly the most important case, it just had the impact of being so high profile.
Over the years, I have grown to respect both candidates and their records. Personally, I had no issue supporting Justice Daniel Kelly when he was the only candidate and have no issue supporting Judge Jennifer Dorow.
Let’s be real, this now leaves Wisconsin Conservatives with a major dilemma, which Conservative to get behind to win in an environment that has been unfavorable to Conservative candidates.
Regardless of the primary outcome, the general election will surely be an epic battle for ideological control of the Supreme Court. With Conservative Justice Patience Rogensack retiring, Wisconsin Conservatives are faced with the genuine prospect of the high court effectively becoming the quasi-Legislature for Governor Tony Evers, should the Liberals take over.
This is a dangerous prospect to be sure because Conservatives MUST WIN, or risk losing everything we have worked so hard for over the past 20 years or so. Act 10, Right to Work, School Choice, Concealed Carry, Castle Doctrine, Voter ID, etc, will ALL be up for grabs.
This is really a do-or-die situation, and we need to make the right decision. While we do have two highly qualified candidates, one of them rises to the top in epic fashion. I have made the decision to support Judge Jennifer Dorow in the Supreme Court Primary.
The political map has changed, and the current political climate simply does not favor Dan Kelly. At face value, he has proven that he is a solid judicial conservative. That is beyond contestation. Unfortunately, he clearly does not have the political instincts and may be too Conservative to win a statewide race.
In 2020 Kelly was routed by over 90k votes. While there’s no way of knowing the real impact of the Presidential primary or COVID-19 on the numbers, such a large amount in a state like Wisconsin is excruciatingly high. In fact, even though he has run before and has now been campaigning for months, he is still struggling with name ID beyond conservative circles. This reality could make April insurmountable once again.
By the way, Belling called for Kelly to drop out of the race this week.
Political comebacks after a statewide loss are extremely rare. Bob Kasten was the last person to do it in 1980 after losing the GOP gubernatorial primary in 1978 to Lee Sherman Dreyfus. The Left knows how to beat Dan Kelly and they are poised to do it again.
Frankly, this isn’t as hard as folks are making it. Pick the candidate with the best chance of winning in April. That’s Jennifer Dorow.
Jennifer Dorow is a fresh face on the scene, and she has been already re-elected in her current position. She is a proven leader amongst her peers and has a genuine, effervescent persona that resonates across the board. The Left would be hard-pressed to pin the extremist label on her, though they will surely try.
The high profile of the parade case gives her immediate name recognition and will help her fundraise across the state and even nationally. As we saw in November, the Left has plenty of resources and they will bring everything to bear to win this seat. The way she handled the defendant in the parade case, proves, she has the temperament and leadership skills to quickly adapt and overcome anything the Left will throw at her.
While I personally have a lot of respect for Dan Kelly, these knee-jerk attacks on Dorow have already proven he and his campaign team lack basic political instincts. His attacks on Dorow are extremely disappointing and unbecoming of the office he hopes to win. Quite honestly, he came across as an entitled, misogynistic baby. This move has clearly taken the wind out of his sails. Mark Belling is right, it really is time to step aside.
Let’s face it; in a low-turnout Spring primary and general election, name ID is critical. And Dorow is now a household name. Press reports of her campaign announcement say she has ‘worldwide’ name ID and some supporters refer to her as a ‘rock star.’
Jennifer Dorow has given us an amazing opportunity to win in the current climate and she will make an amazing Supreme Court Justice. We are at that crossroads again, WE MUST PLAY TO WIN OR WE WILL LOSE EVERYTHING.
Dan Kelly’s response to Mark Belling several days after I published this article and the AP published its article, and as of this update, no retraction on the AP Article: