Waukesha Co. judge announces run for state Supreme Court

By: - November 30, 2022 2:26 pm
Wisconsin State Supreme Court entrance

Photo by Mike Steele | Flickr CC BY 2.0

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow announced on Wednesday she’s joining the race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

Dorow recently gained attention for presiding over the trial of the man who drove through the Waukesha Christmas Parade last year and killed six people. That attention from the high profile case led to hundreds of supporters sending her letters and calls from state Republican voters for her to run for the seat, Dorow said. She sentenced the man, 40-year-old Darrel Brooks, to hundreds of years in prison.

Appointed to the Waukesha County bench in 2011 by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, Dorow, a Hartland resident, joins a crowded and technically nonpartisan race that will now feature two conservatives and two liberals. 

The four candidates are vying for a seat being vacated by the retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack. Conservative justices currently hold a 4-3 majority, but the race this spring will decide the balance of the state’s highest court.

“We must replace Justice Roggensack with a judicial conservative who will fairly and faithfully apply the law as written to the facts of the cases that come before the court,” Dorow said at her announcement event at the Waukesha County Courthouse. 

Her competition with former conservative Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly has already begun to divide state Republicans into two camps as the party is still assessing what went wrong in its failed gubernatorial campaign in November. 

The judicial advocacy group Fair Courts America has announced it plans to spend a significant chunk of money to support Kelly in the race. Fair Courts America is funded by billionaire Richard Uihlein, who recently spent millions of dollars to boost Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in his reelection campaign against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. 

Uihlein, his wife Elizabeth and Beloit-area billionaire Diane Hendricks gave millions of dollars to Wisconsin Truth PAC, which spent a large amount of money to air TV ads highlighting Barnes’ previous support for proposals to end the state’s cash bail system. On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Dorow has previously stated she supports changing the cash bail system. 

The two liberals in the race are Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz and Dane County Judge Everett Mitchell. 

In a statement, Protasiewicz’ campaign said both Kelly and Dorow are “right wing extremists.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.