Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz take part in a debate at the State Bar Center in Madison, Wis. on Mar. 21, 2023.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

This transcript is based on video posted on YouTube by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Thank you so much for joining me here tonight. It is lovely to see all of you, and it’s lovely to see all of you behind the camera all across this beautiful state of Wisconsin. 

I want to start out by just telling you my deepest gratitude for everything that you’ve done. I’ve traveled this state talking about the difference between the rule of law and the rule of Janet (Protasiewicz). How important it is to conserve our constitutional heritage. And why it’s so important that we keep that Constitution strong because that’s what protects our liberties.

But all I did, all I did, was have the great good fortune to have numerous conversations with the beautiful people of Wisconsin all over the state, and that was a joy and a blessing to me, and I thank you from the deepest parts of my heart for that. (Claps and cheers.)

You, you, oh well what you did was phenomenal. You made this candidacy sing. You made this a beautiful thing to be a part of. Everywhere I went in Wisconsin, I saw people who were passionate about their Constitution and passionate about their liberties and about the future of this great state of Wisconsin.

And I saw some of the most remarkable efforts that I have ever seen to promote and secure that future, and that inspired me like you would not believe. You might know that it is hard to do a statewide campaign. It takes an awful lot out of you, especially for an introvert like me. 

You know even for an introvert I drew so much inspiration and energy from all of you. I saw it in your eyes how much you care. I saw it in your actions, all the doors that you knocked on, the thousands of phone calls that you made, the postcards that you wrote. 

And all I could do is say thank you, and it felt so inadequate. Because I wanted you to know so much more what this has meant not just to me but to my family and for all those who care about the constitutional order. And all I had was those simple words, just thank you, thank you.

And even now I don’t know how to express my gratitude adequately. I’m just so grateful for all of you

Now this didn’t turn out the way that we were looking for. And I think there are a couple of reasons for it, and I think we need to address them head on. 

And it brings me no joy to say this; 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. This was the most deeply deceitful, dishonorable, despicable campaign I have ever seen run for the courts. It was truly beneath contempt.

Now I say this not because we did not prevail. I do not say this because of the rancid slanders that were launched against me — although that was bad enough.

But that is not my concern.

My concern is the damage done to the institution of the courts. My opponent is a serial liar. She’s disregarded judicial ethics. She’s demeaned the judiciary with her behavior. And this is the future that we have to look forward to in Wisconsin.

I have been committed to the rule of law my entire career. I understand this to be the most fundamental basic promise of civilization. And in its heart, it lives in the judiciary, and if not there, nowhere at all. 

We’ve had this laid out plainly for us. We could have the rule of law. Or the rule of Janet. The people of Wisconsin have chosen the rule of Janet’s. 

Now I respect that decision because it is theirs to make. So I’ve gone around this great state of ours. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve reminded the people that all the power to create and maintain governments in this state belongs to them. And all the power to decide who sits in the seats created by their Constitution belongs to them.

And I’ve promised them that I would respect their decision in this race, regardless of what it is. Because that is what a servant does.

So I respect the decision that the people of Wisconsin have made. But I think this does not end well. As I look forward I hope, I hope it does end well. This has been a beautiful, beautiful life here in Wisconsin with all of you. 

And I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, because I think it’s going to need it

Thank you.” 

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Popular stories from Wisconsin Watch

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.