The largest pro-Kelly donor, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s business lobby, has so far spent $3.4 million on him. Nick Novak, a spokesman for the group, declined to comment on the group’s future plans. A spokesman for Fair Courts America did not respond to messages Tuesday. The spate of Protasiewicz lawsuits has attacked Judge Kelly for, among other things, his opposition to abortion rights, previous anti-Social Security comments and his association with Republican attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Mr. Kelly’s spokesman, Ben Voelkel, said Mr. Kelly filmed a television spot on Tuesday. He predicted that the Kelly campaign and its allies would soon catch up with Judge Protasiewicz and the Democrats in overall TV spending, but also hinted that the millions of dollars spent on TV time were wasted in a relatively low turnout in April became.
“We reach voters in many different ways,” said Mr. Voelkel. “They are spending millions of dollars on an election that is not going to have a large turnout. We took a slightly different approach.”
Wisconsin municipal employees began mailing absentee ballots for the Supreme Court election this week, and in-person ballots will be available starting next Tuesday. Private polls conducted by officials on both sides of the race show Judge Protasiewicz has a mid-to-high single digit lead over Justice Kelly. Mr Voelkel denied that Justice Kelly was behind, but declined to reveal the campaign’s figures.
The court election is formally a bipartisan competition, but there is little mystery as to where the candidates stand politically. Most of Judge Protasiewicz’s campaign money comes from the Wisconsin Democratic Party, which has unlimited transfers under state law. Justice Kelly has worked as counsel for the Republican National Committee, which has hired him to focus on “election integrity” issues for the party during and after the 2020 election.
Hillary Clinton confirmed Judge Protasiewicz on Tuesday. Justice Kelly was endorsed by President Donald J. Trump during the 2020 Justice re-election campaign, which he lost.
In the past three weeks, the Protasiewicz campaign has spent $9.1 million on television advertising, and outside groups that support it have spent $2.03 million, according to AdImpact, a media tracking company.