Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly, who lost an election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court on April 4, 2023, speaks at an event.

(Photo: Justice Dan Kelly/Facebook)

Defeated Right-Wing Judge Refuses to Concede to Victor He Deems Not 'Worthy'

"This is just what Republicans do now," said one critic.

Daniel Kelly, the right-wing former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who lost his bid to re-join the high court on Tuesday as liberal circuit court judge Janet Protasiewicz won by a decisive margin, refused to concede to his opponent in a speech that one critic said personified the Republican Party's approach to electoral politics in recent years.

"It brings me no joy to say this," Kelly told supporters. "I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent. But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede."

Kelly acknowledged that he lost the election and said he "respected" the decision made by more than 55% of Wisconsin voters who chose Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County Circuit judge who was outspoken about her support for abortion rights and labor unions, to join the court, giving Democratic-aligned justices a 4-3 majority.

But he denounced Protasiewicz as a "serial liar" and accused her of disregarding judicial ethics and demeaning the judiciary "with her behavior."

"This is just what Republicans do now," said New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie.

Progressive Chicago-based news outlet Heartland Signalaccused Kelly of going "full sour grapes."

In the two-and-a-half years since former Republican President Donald Trump urged his supporters to attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and refused to acknowledge his loss, a number of losing GOP candidates have demanded recounts, claimed their elections were "rigged," and spread baseless conspiracy theories about voting irregularities.

"Among the Trumpian core of the Republican Party, this has become mainstream," Rick Hasen, the director of UCLA Law's Safeguarding Democracy Project, toldAxios last year. "It's exceedingly dangerous, because a democracy depends on losers' consent."

As Common Dreams reported earlier this week, Kelly claimed to be nonpartisan during the campaign, but has received funding from vehemently anti-union billionaires and has ruled in the past in the favor of allowing people to carry concealed weapons on public transit. He has also written blog posts in the past saying that people who support abortion rights want "to preserve sexual libertinism" and denouncing marriage equality and people who rely on Medicare and Social Security benefits.

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