Prosser Wins Recount In Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser remains at the top of the race after a statewide recount:

With the weeks-long recount complete, unofficial numbers confirm that state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser narrowly defeated Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election.

But the battle may not be over yet, as Kloppenburg mulls whether to challenge the results in court.

And if a legal contest goes on long enough, attorneys say it could delay efforts to swear Prosser in for a new term on Aug. 1, leading to a temporary vacancy on the closely divided high court.

Final recount numbers submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board show Prosser with 7,006 more votes than Kloppenburg.

She will spend the coming days reviewing the findings of the recount to determine whether to sue over the results, according to her campaign manager Melissa Mulliken.

“I’m not going to speculate” on the likelihood of a lawsuit, Mulliken said. “We have to look at the record and analyze the evidence and the law and make our decision from there.”

The struggle over the court seat was magnified by the state’s political divisions, with conservatives lining up behind Prosser and liberals siding with Kloppenburg.

During the primary, the officially nonpartisan campaign focused on the court’s 4-3 split, in which Prosser often – but, he stresses, not always – sides with the conservative majority. Both he and Kloppenburg have insisted they would be impartial, while questioning each other’s objectivity.

The campaign took a new twist after Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a budget-repair bill that would curb collective bargaining for most public employees. Unions rallied behind Kloppenburg in the hope that she would vote to overturn the law, while conservatives stepped up their support for Prosser in the hope that he would vote to uphold it.

Now that bill has been passed by the Legislature but blocked from taking effect by a court challenge. Republican legislative leaders have suggested they could add the same language to the biennial state budget, a move that also could face a court challenge.

Ultimately, the issue could be decided by the Supreme Court – unless a temporary vacancy in Prosser’s seat produces a 3-3 tie, in which case a lower court might have the last word.

It’s inconceivable that Kloppenburg would have any more success in the court system than she did with the recount, especially considering that she’s facing at 7.000 vote deficit. However, if she’s entered the annals of sore-loserdom, the odds of success won’t necessarily dissuade her.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Have a nice G.A. says:


  2. Trumwill says:

    Klopperberg wouldn’t have to succeed in the courts. She’d just have to last long enough to prevent an anti-union majority in the state Supreme Court. And even if Prosser is duly seated and the anti-union majority wins, they’ll have a talking point about the legitimacy of the ruling (Prosser should have recused himself until every last appeal had been worked through). Not a reasonable talking point, but reasonableness is not completely necessary when it comes to things like this.

  3. matt says:

    I was rather hoping the recount would force some changes including the removal of that one clerk who can’t seem to understand basic computer security…

  4. al says:

    I must say, winning this election TWICE is pretty sweet! I mean really…what kind of idiot challenges a 7000+ vote spread? THIS is what democracy looks like–not a bunch of stinky, loud and obnoxious college students who didn’t get their way.