Conservative-backed Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly has again outraised liberal-supported rival Jill Karofsky, a Dane County Circuit Court judge, in the race for state Supreme Court, bringing in nearly three times her fundraising amount.
The numbers give Kelly, the only conservative-supported candidate in the race, a leg up before he faces Karofsky and Ed Fallone, a Marquette Law School professor who is also backed by liberals, in a three-way primary Feb. 18.
The top two vote-getters will advance to the April 7 general election where they will vie for a 10-year term on the court. The April 7 election coincides with the presidential primary in which Democrats could still have a competitive race and Republicans will not.
Over the latest reporting period covering Jan. 1 to Feb. 3, Kelly’s campaign raised $187,463, according to preliminary data provided by the campaign. During that time, the campaign spent $297,567, ending the period with $462,864 in the campaign bank account. No outstanding loans were reported.
Kelly’s performance over the past month mirrors the previous period covering the last half of 2019, when he outraised his rivals by taking in $556,184, compared with $227,553 for Karofsky and $76,309 for Fallone.
Over the most recent reporting period, Karofsky took in $65,354, spent $163,236 and ended the period with $83,393 in the bank. Fallone has not yet provided his fundraising figures. The campaign has $15,000 in outstanding loans.
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Fundraising numbers are important because they can give an indication of general support and a campaign’s organizing ability.
The lower fundraising numbers among the two liberal-backed candidates may be explained by the fact liberal support may be split between them, while Kelly is the lone conservative-supported candidate in the race.
A win by a liberal-backed candidate this year would give liberals the chance to retake the majority on the court in 2023, when conservative-supported Chief Justice Patience Roggensack’s term expires. If Kelly wins election in April, conservatives will hold onto the majority until at least 2025.
Kelly was appointed to the court by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2016 and is seeking a full term on the court.
Karofsky won a seat on the Dane County Circuit Court in 2017 and has also served as assistant and deputy district attorney in the Dane County District Attorney’s Office from 1992 to 2001. She has also held two posts in the state Department of Justice, as violence against women prosecutor and as head of the Office of Crime Victim Services.
Fallone, who has been a Marquette Law School professor since 1992, previously worked as an attorney specializing in civil and business law. He also has experience in criminal defense. He ran for the Supreme Court in 2013.