When he’s speaking to the general public, Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly claims he’s not decided on the state’s 1874 abortion ban. His endorsements from anti-abortion groups don’t signal how he would rule, he says. He claims he only had one conversation with the state Republican Party about the fake electors scheme to overturn the 2020 election, despite the $120,000 he was paid by the Republican Party for elections work.
That’s Kelly’s official message—and he is not shy about calling his opponent, Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a liar when she suggests that he has made up his mind against abortion rights and that $120,000 was for work on questionable plans. But while he’s pretending to be something other than an extremist for the benefit of general election voters, the company he’s keeping in the final weeks of the campaign tells another story.
Early voting has started and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Can you chip in $5 to help restore abortion rights in Wisconsin by electing Janet Protasiewicz to the state Supreme Court?
On Tuesday, Kelly appeared remotely at an event headlined by anti-abortion extremist pastor Matthew Trewhella. In 1993, Trewhella signed a statement endorsing “The justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force,” including the “justified” murder of abortion providers. He also vocally supported the formation of militias opposed to abortion, gun control, and taxes. At the Tuesday event hosted by the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, Trewhella likened COVID-19 public health efforts to the Holocaust.
“You cannot appease tyrants. You have to defeat them. And the sooner you decide not to comply, and to defeat them privately not comply with evil, publicly join with other good men and magistrates (to) stand against the evil, the better chance you have of stopping evil,” he said at the event. “If you keep accommodating yourself—guess what?—you’ll be swallowed up by evil. It will be too late and then bloody revolution is the only option left.”
According to Kelly, he didn’t know what Trewhella said and had nothing to do with it. Except that even if we believe that, Trewhella has a history of extremism going back 30 years. Kelly still decided to appear at the same event as him.
That’s not all. Kelly is also getting the active support of Scott Presler, a far-right influencer who was outside the Capitol during what he calls “the largest civil rights protest in American history,” and yes, he’s talking about Jan. 6. Presler has worked for what the Anti-Defamation League calls the largest anti-Muslim organization in the U.S. and the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an “extreme hate group.” He’s dabbled in QAnon conspiracy theories and organized multiple “stop the steal” events, and he got CPAC’s 2021 Ronald Reagan Award. While the dreadful term “influencer” is often abused, being used for people whose ambitions are much bigger than their platforms, Presler has 1.3 million Twitter followers.
Presler is on the ground in Wisconsin campaigning for Kelly and, he tweeted, had appeared on 10 radio shows as of March 20, promoting Kelly’s Supreme Court candidacy. He’s also been making appearances at Kelly fundraisers and local Republican Party events.
Again, Kelly wants Wisconsin voters to believe that Janet Protasiewicz is lying when she identifies his extremist positions and ties, but his associations tell us who he is. Dan Kelly is a Scott Presler, Matthew Trewhella, false electors, anti-abortion groups kind of guy. And there are less than two weeks left to ensure that he is not the deciding vote on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Today, Kerry is joined by Drew Linzer, the director and co-founder of the well-regarded polling company, CIVIQs. Drew and Kerry talk about a recent CIVIQs poll that asked Americans from all walks of life about trans issues, among other things. Drew talks about the methodology and how the results show that conservatives tend to have more liberal views when questions are framed in terms of fundamental rights.
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