As of this afternoon it looks as if JoAnne Kloppenburg has unseated incumbent Supreme Court judge David Prosser by the thinnest of margins. 204 votes to be exact. Because of the razor-close vote it appears as if there is going to be a recount. Kloppenburg declared victory this afternoon after the votes from the last precincts were tallied and announced by the AP. Judge Prosser has until April 20th to file a request for a recount.
The election for State Supreme Court justice has attracted more attention than it would have under normal circumstances primarily due to the collective-bargaining bill that has been promoted by Gov. Walker and the Republican Party. Detractors of the bill were viewing Tuesday’s election as a referendum on the bill. The election took on added significance as the judicial rulings handed down by judge Maryann Sumi overturned the passage of the bill, and with the state attorneys stating they were going to file an appeal on the ruling the next stop would be in the State Supreme Court. Both judges stated they would be impartial on the bench, but Prosser is a self-described “judicial conservative” and Kloppenburg had been backed by more liberal supporters.
The campaigns on both sides turned ugly in the days leading up to the election as a record $3.5 million was spent by interest groups and supporters. Provided the vote totals hold up, Kloppenburg will be the second candidate to unseat a sitting judge in the last two elections. Prior to that it had not happened for 41 years in Wisconsin.