Judge Janet Protasiewicz walks across a stage holding a microphone.

A Pro-Choice Judge Clobbered a Trumpy Extremist in Wisconsin, and Now Anything Feels Possible

The people of Wisconsin woke up to a peculiar feeling this morning. A sort of jittery anticipation. Like fear, but more positive? Exhaustion, sure, but the kind that might not be permanent. The world outside the window looks as bleakly brown and dead as it did yesterday, but it didn’t just rain last night, it poured, and the long cold winter of our despair might not last forever after all.

Recommended Videos

Is that … dare I say it … hope?

It doesn’t quite feel real yet, but Judge Janet Protasiewicz absolutely destroyed anti-choice Trump minion Dan Kelly last night in the state Supreme Court race, widely hailed as the most important election of the year. The win was so decisive that Dave Wasserman, one of the Twitter dudes who does electoral math magic, posted the momentous words just 39 minutes after the polls closed: “I have seen enough.” News sites soon followed, and the AP called the race by about 9 p.m.

With more than 95 percent of votes counted this morning, the tallies stood at 55.5 percent for Judge Janet and 44.5 for Demon Dan—a virtual landslide in an ever-purple state where presidential elections are usually decided by less than a percentage point.

And just like that, democracy and bodily autonomy and our very faith in this decrepit system are saved! At least, that’s what it feels like. The extraordinary win means that liberals will hold a majority on the court for the first time in 15 years with a case looming on the horizon that could restore abortion rights in Wisconsin. Protasiewicz (pronounced “prota-SAY-witz,” or if you prefer, “associate justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court”) has also expressed a desire to revisit the state’s ultra-gerrymandered maps and a host of other impactful issues.

We could have fair maps! We might actually live in a representative democracy again?! We could vote people into office who will have to try to actually represent us so that we might vote for them again, and we could cast those votes conveniently and without voter ID. We could see overwhelmingly popular policy choices become reality. We could regain control of our own bodies. We could be more like Michigan! (Who here hasn’t stared longingly across Lake Michigan at their fair and independent redistricting process?)

Well, I’ll believe it when I see it, but things feel possible for the first time in a helluva long time, not just for this state, but maybe this whole country. And the reason is that a record number of voters—and apparently a record number of young voters—showed up for a spring election in an off-year in the Upper Midwest.

While the democracy stuff is huge (really the hugest because it affects everything else), the less abstract and more visceral attack on abortion rights seemed to drive the energy in this election. Democrats have finally woken up to the fact that women vote (often for other women!), and that abortion is not a bad word to be avoided—in fact, it’s a cornerstone issue that will drive people to the polls in enormous numbers.


Reproductive rights have taken center stage since Roe fell, with stunning success in Wisconsin and elsewhere. May that strike fear into the clogged arteries of aging male legislators everywhere.

(featured image: Jeff Schear/Getty Images for WisDems)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind
Erika Wittekind (she/her) is a contributing writer covering politics and news and has two decades of experience in local news reporting, freelance writing, and nonfiction editing. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, dancing in the kitchen, trying to raise empathetic teen boys, and keeping plants alive. Find her on Mastodon at @erikalyn.newsie.social.