Liberal victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race is a 'five-alarm warning to Republicans': WSJ editorial board

Liberal victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race is a 'five-alarm warning to Republicans': WSJ editorial board

Had liberal Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz enjoyed a double-digit victory in a state supreme court race in Massachusetts, California or Maryland, it wouldn't have been especially surprising. Those are deep blue states where former President Donald Trump lost badly in 2020.

But Protasiewicz defeated far-right MAGA Republican Dan Kelly by 11 percent not in California or Massachusetts, but in a race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Protasiewicz, during her campaign, relentlessly attacked Kelly as an "extremis" on the abortion issue — and her pro-choice messaging was successful. The judge defeated Kelly in a state that Republican Trump won in 2016 but lost to Democratic President Joe Biden in 2020.

In an editorial published on April 5, the Wall Street Journal's conservative editorial board stresses that there is no way to sugarcoat Kelly's double-digit loss — which it describes as a "five-alarm warning to Republicans about 2024."

READ MORE: Abortion rights enjoy a double-digit victory in contentious Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Liberals and progressives, the board notes, also prevailed in Chicago's mayoral race on April 4 when Brandon Johnson, a Democratic Cook County Commissioner, defeated a more centrist Democrat, Paul Vallas.

The WSJ editorial board argues, "Progressives had a banner day in the Midwest Tuesday, with victories for Chicago mayor and a swing seat on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court…. Wisconsin's Supreme Court result is another victory for the national left, which outspent the GOP and made it the most expensive judicial race in history."

The board stresses that Republicans shouldn't overlook the "magnitude" of Protasiewicz's victory.

"Her major issue was abortion, especially the fate of an 1849 state statute that became law after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade," WSJ editorial board members observe. "The law bans abortion in nearly all cases. Republicans who control the (Wisconsin) State Legislature helped her cause by failing to amend the law. They had ample warning from results last year in Michigan and Kentucky, where abortion drove Democratic turnout. The Wisconsin results show abortion is still politically potent."

READ MORE: Even Ann Coulter admits that 'strict' GOP abortion bans are going too far

The conservative board continues, "In a special election for the state Senate on Tuesday, the Republican candidate barely won in a longtime GOP stronghold in the northern Milwaukee suburbs. If Republicans can't win in Mequon, their legislative majorities will soon be imperiled, and you can move Wisconsin out of the swing-state column for the presidency in 2024."

Following Protasiewicz's 11 percent win over Kelly, right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter warned that if Republicans continue to take "strict" absolutist positions on abortion, they can expect to lose a lot more key elections. Coulter is anti-abortion herself, and she has no problem with the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade with its 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. But even Coulter believes that post-Roe, some GOP-sponsored anti-abortion bills are going too far.

In an April 4 Twitter post, Coulter said of Protasiewicz's win, "The demand for anti-abortion legislation just cost Republicans another crucial race. Pro-lifers: WE WON. Abortion is not a 'constitutional right' anymore! Please stop pushing strict limits on abortion, or there will be no Republicans left."

Similarly, the WSJ's right-wing editorial board believes that the abortion issue has become politically toxic for Republicans in swing states.

"Republicans had better get their abortion position straight, and more in line with where voters are, or they will face another disappointment in 2024," the board warns the GOP. "A total ban is a loser in swing states. Republicans who insist on that position could soon find that electoral defeats will lead to even more liberal state abortion laws than under Roe. That's where Michigan is now after last year’s rout."

READ MORE: How a Wisconsin Supreme Court race previews the abortion battles that lie ahead in 2024: conservative

Read the Wall Street Journal’s full editorial at this link (subscription required).

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