Razor Thin Win For Kloppenburg In WI Supreme Court Election
In a rebuke to the anti-worker agenda of Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin, his staunch ally on the state Supreme Court was barely ousted in a heated election. The votes were finished being counted today, and with 100% of the precincts reporting, Kloppenburg received 740,090 votes to incumbent Prosser with 739,886.
The difference in votes amounts to 204 out of an epic total of 1,479,976 cast is a razor thin victory, amounting to less than a 0.02% difference will result in an automatic recount which will likely cost over $1 million and could take weeks.
The New York Times reports, “The close outcome followed a highly personal, frenzied contest that drew millions of dollars in advertising from national conservative and liberal groups. Despite its designation as a nonpartisan race, the contest morphed into a referendum on Scott Walker, the new Republican governor who during his first three months in office pushed for a law cutting benefits and collective bargaining rights for public employees.”
Justice David Prosser had been on the bench since being appointed by Republican Tommy Thompson in 1998. It is very rare for incumbents to lose elections to state Supreme Courts.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “Just five Wisconsin Supreme Court justices have been unseated by challengers since the court was created in 1852 – Samuel Crawford in 1855; Robert M. Bashford in 1908; James Ward Rector in 1947; George R. Currie in 1967; and Butler in 2008.”
Adding later in the article, “The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School estimates interest groups spent more than $3.5 million on TV ads, breaking the $3.38 million record set in the 2008 Gableman-Butler contest, with four conservative groups backing Prosser spending a total of 37% more than one liberal group backing Kloppenburg.”
This vote will rest control from the former 4-3 conservative majority on the court, and likely impact whether the recently passed bill that destroyed a half century of collective bargaining rights will be deemed constitutional.
JoAnne Kloppenburg, 57, is an assistant attorney general whose uphill victory surprised many. She is best known for her work prosecuting polluters from 1993 to 2003 as the lead of an environmental unit.