Liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz has launched two new TV ads, one praising her as a commonsense judge, the other knocking conservative rival Daniel Kelly as “for sale for $20,000.”

Protasiewicz’s campaign said the ads are part of a statewide buy that has now reached close to $8 million since the race began.

Post-primary, Protasiewicz and the groups backing her have spent about $9.5 million, compared to $5 million from the groups supporting Kelly, according to a tally. Overall spending in the race is now near $24 million. That’s about $9 million more than the previous national record.

The narrator in one ad praises Protasiewicz as “a prosecutor fighting for justice for victims of crime” over a 25-year period and a judge who “upholds the constitution and she fiercely guards our rights.” The ad comes as Protasiewicz has faced negative ads over sentences she has handed out on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court bench.

The narrator adds Protasiewicz believes “women should have the freedom to make their own decisions on abortion” and is a “common-sense, impartial judge who cares about us.”

The narrator in the second spot focuses on donations Kelly received for his 2020 bid for a full 10-year term on the court. The narrator says it costs $20,000 to “buy off” Kelly in one case.

Kelly recused himself from a case in late 2019 as the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether the Elections Commission should be forced to remove more than 200,000 votes from the rolls who may have changed addresses.

Kelly later explained he stepped off the case, which included Timothy Zignego as a plaintiff, because he was on the April 2020 ballot and believed it could impact his race. After losing his bid for a full 10-year term that spring, he reversed course and decided to participate in the case.

Campaign finance reports show 10 donations of $2,000 each from people with the last name of Zignego between Dec. 24, 2019, and Jan. 27, 2020, when Timothy Zignego made his donation.

The narrator in the spot says Kelly “conveniently changed his mind about whether to judge the Tim Zignego case.” After stepping off, he “pocketed” $20,000 in donations from Zignego and his family before he “un-recused himself,” the narrator adds.

The narrator closes the spot, “Justice shouldn’t be for sale. Dan Kelly is too corrupt, too extreme.”

See the ads:

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