Challenger Jill Karofsky outraised Justice Daniel Kelly more than 3-to-1 over the past six weeks, fueled in part by nearly $1.3 million in donations from the state Democratic Party, according to a WisPolitics.com check of their campaign finance reports.
Karofsky, a Dane County judge, reported raising nearly $2 million between Feb. 4 and March 23. She spent more than $1.4 million and had $643,806 in the bank.
Over the past dozen years, the previous best haul had been $866,030 in a pre-election period for a state Supreme Court race.
Kelly, meanwhile, raised $591,790, spent $658,344 and had $396,310 cash on hand to close the reporting period.
Kelly reported $65,380 in donations from the state GOP.
Meanwhile, the Dem contributions to Karofsky included $314,969 in in-kind donations covering consulting fees, IT costs, online ads and polling. The rest of the party’s backing came through transfers totaling $973,000 for the period.
The donations mark a significant change from past Supreme Court races, when the state GOP has been a more active participant in direct giving to a candidate. In the 2018 race, for example, the Republican Party of Wisconsin was the biggest donor to Michael Screnock’s campaign, giving him $412,905 in a losing cause. In that race, the Dem Party made about $10,000 in in-kind donations to Rebecca Dallet as she won an open seat.
Karofsky also has knocked Kelly in this year’s race, because he headquartered his campaign out of the state GOP headquarters. The incumbent’s report shows Kelly paid the state GOP for office rent, staff wages and mailing service.