Dan Kelly, the former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who lost a second race for the bench Tuesday night, delivered less of a concession speech and more of a lengthy, emotional whine.
Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated Kelly easily, by 11 points. It’s a similar margin of loss to the one Kelly faced in 2020, when he was beaten by now-Justice Jill Karofsky.
“Now this didn’t turn out the way we were looking for. And I think there are a couple of reasons for it and I think we need to address them head on. It brings me no joy to say this,” he said, haltingly. “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.”
“This was the most deeply deceitful, dishonorable, despicable campaign I have ever seen run for the courts,” he added. “It was truly beneath contempt.”
The audience made sounds in agreement.
Kelly only got more personal from there, railing against the “rancid slanders that were launched against me,” calling Protasiewicz a “serial liar” who “disregarded judicial ethics” and “demeaned the judiciary with her behavior.”
Kelly’s accusations of Protasiewicz’s “deceitfulness” ring a bit hollow, since he also spent much of the campaign accusing her of being too candid about her beliefs. Protasiewicz premised much of her campaign on her promise to uphold abortion rights, coming just shy of saying outright that she’d vote against the 1849 ban that would all but end access to the procedure in the state.
“She’s already told each and every one of you how she will approach this,” Kelly said at the March debate. “And although she says the formulaic words that she will follow the law, she’s never said one thing in this campaign that would lead to any reasonable belief that that’s what she would do.”
He added that she would “steal legislative authority and use that in the courts.”
He also accused her of “telling lies” about him when she said that he’d pledged to uphold Wisconsin Right to Life’s values. Kelly was endorsed by many anti-abortion groups, and once wrote that Democrats support abortion access to “to preserve sexual libertinism.”
“So I respect the decision that the people of Wisconsin have made,” Kelly said at the end of his pseudo-concession speech. “But I think this does not end well.”
“I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, because I think it’s gonna need it.”
For her part, Protasiewicz gave a more traditional victory speech, thanking her supporters for their hard work and votes.
“Well, Wisconsin, guess what? We did it!” she said to cheers.