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Conservative Dan Kelly releases first ad of Wisconsin Supreme Court campaign

Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly has released his first televised campaign ad two weeks before a consequential election deciding the high court's power balance.

The Republican-backed candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court announced his first television ad buy on Friday, just over two weeks before the election and after his Democratic-supported opponent has dominated the airwaves for weeks.

Conservative candidate Dan Kelly’s first ad, which faults sentences handed down by opponent Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz, amounts to $70,000, according to AdImpact, which tracks spending on campaign ads.

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That is less than 1% of the $9.3 million that Protasiewicz has spent on TV ads since the primary, according to AdImpacts totals.

Outside groups have also poured millions into the race, making it the most expensive state Supreme Court contest in U.S. history. WisPolitics.com puts the total of all spending at nearly $30 million, roughly double the previous record of $15.2 million spent on an Illinois race in 2004.

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The winner of the high stakes race will determine whether conservatives maintain 4-3 control or it flips to liberals. The court is expected to deal with abortion rights, voting and election laws heading into the 2024 presidential race and the legality of Republican-drawn legislative maps.

Kelly and Protasiewicz are scheduled to meet Tuesday for the only debate before the April 4 election. Early in-person voting also begins Tuesday.

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