Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Too Close To Call

The hard fought race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which got caught up in the battle over the state’s new collective bargaining law, is too close to call:

Justice David Prosser clung to a narrow lead over Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the state Supreme Court race early Wednesday, after a hard-fought campaign dominated by political forces and outside interest groups.

But even with 99% of the vote counted, fewer than 600 votes – about 0.04% of ballots – separated the candidates. And The Associated Press said early Wednesday that the race was too close to call and that it would take hours or most of the day to get a final tally.

That close margin had political insiders from both sides talking about the possibility of a recount, which Wisconsin has avoided in statewide races in recent decades. Any recount could be followed by lawsuits – litigation that potentially would be decided by the high court.

The razor-thin result was the latest twist in Wisconsin’s ongoing political turmoil. The state has drawn the attention of the nation in recent weeks because of the fight over a controversial law sharply restricting public employee unions, which caused massive weeks-long protests in the Capitol, a boycott of the Senate by Democrats and attempts to recall senators from both parties.

Interest groups on both sides had portrayed the election as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda and particularly on the collective bargaining law. Conservatives backed Prosser, and liberals supported Kloppenburg, even though the candidates themselves insisted they were politically neutral.

(….)

Either candidate can request a recount once the votes have been officially canvassed. If the margin between the candidates is less than 0.5% – as it is likely to be in this race – the state charges nothing to conduct the recount. If the margin is between 0.5% and 2%, the candidate asking for the recount must pay $5 per ward.

As unseemly as the idea of judicial elections are, the idea of a recount in such an election that eventually ends up in court itself just adds another level of unseemliness to the whole affair. One would hope that one side would concede after the votes are counted rather than dragging this out, but I suppose there isn’t much hope of that.

Update: Counting has resumed this morning, and Kloppenburg has erased Prosser’s lead and overtaken him:

As of 9:30 this morning, the Associated Press had results for all but 10 of the state’s 3,630 precincts and Kloppenburg had taken a 140 vote lead after Prosser had lead most of the night by less than 1,000 votes.

At this rate, we could end up with a race decided by 100 votes or less.

Also, here’s a link to the AP’s election results, which now show Kloppenburg ahead by about 350 votes

Update # 2: With a 204 vote margin and a recount certain, Kloppenburg has claimed victory.

 

 

FILED UNDER: Labor Unions, Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    Sad part is that we’ve seen this before. We know the Dems will demand a recount. We know, there will be lost “boxes of votes” found that will unsurprisingly go for the Democrat.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    Gabriel Malor at Ace Of Spades put it quite well:

    Folks, that is, as we say in the election game, inside the margin of fraud. Police guarded the ballots overnight, but that doesn’t really reassure. Would this be the same police that stood by and did nothing while union thugs tore up recall ballots aimed at Democrats?

    All I can add is “…and let their union threaten otherwise-involved businesses with a boycott if they didn’t publicly declare their support for public employees?”

    J.

  3. Jay Tea says:

    Damn… screwed up the formatting. Only one paragraph was a quote, the “All I can add” is mine.

    J.

  4. Tano says:

    And, it should be noted, that the other local race that became a proxy contest for the larger state issues – the election to fill Scott Walker’s old job as Milwaukee County Exec. – went in a landslide to the Dems.

  5. sam says:

    I see Jay and the Muricans are launching the DemFraud Tour…

  6. Jay Tea,

    You had an unclosed blockquite in there so I went ahead I fixed it

  7. Jay Tea says:

    Much obliged, Doug. That tends to happen when I don’t use buttons, but type in the code directly.

    You would not believe what I’ve done to the main page at Wizbang on occasion…

    J.

  8. Jay,

    No I can believe that. I’ve done that with an italics or bold code a few times……

  9. FYI, I just updated the post. Kloppenburg now leads with 10 precincts still left to count.

  10. mantis says:

    Gabriel Malor at Ace Of Spades put it quite well: threw around an accusation based on nothing, which I wholeheartedly support.

    Fixed that for you.

  11. Neil Hudelson says:

    Looks like the 3 precincts left to report in are all in Milwaukee which, up until now, has been favoring Kloppenburg quite heavily. I do not know Milwaukee’s make up (nor want to take the time to research it) to know what those last precincts might do. If they follow the rest of the county, the immediate race is going to decide in Kloppenburg’s favor. Considering a lot of the closeness of this race has been because of the Republican’s over reach, and considering a lot of the absentee ballots (which may have been sent in before all the hoopla) haven’t been counted, the race might again swing back for Prosser.

    A recount will be initiated either way.

  12. Gustopher says:

    I would hope that neither candidate concedes, and that there is a recount. Elections are important, and we should get the outcome correct.

    Also, I want to listen to the Republican Noise Machine complain about stolen elections. The impotent rage always pleases me.

  13. tom p says:

    We know, there will be lost “boxes of votes” found that will unsurprisingly go for the Democrat.

    The question I have always asked and no GOPer has ever been able to answer is, “How is it that box of Dem votes got lost in the first place?”

  14. Trumwill says:

    The smart money is on Kloppenberg, but I am pretty astonished it is this close. Considering Dem enthusiasm, the natural tilt of the state, and the unpopularity of the reforms which may hinge on this election, I figured it would be a blowout.

  15. PJ says:

    @Trumwill:

    The smart money is on Kloppenberg, but I am pretty astonished it is this close. Considering Dem enthusiasm, the natural tilt of the state, and the unpopularity of the reforms which may hinge on this election, I figured it would be a blowout.

    One word that explains why it is this close. Incumbency.

    This isn’t for an open seat, it’s for the seat occupied by Justice David Prosser.

  16. wr says:

    And this would only be the fifth time in something like 150 that a member of the WI supreme court was not re-elected. So it was a pretty big lift, even with the politics swirling around…