State Election News: All votes in: Kloppenburg leads unoffcially by 204 votes; recount is next
Votes from the final precinct in the Wisconsin State Supreme Court race have been counted, and JoAnne Kloppenburg finishes with an unofficial lead of 204 votes over incumbent justice David Prosser.
The last precinct to be counted was the Town of Lake Mills in Jefferson County. Problems with the tally sheets delayed the vote count until just before noon this morning.
Prosser has said he will ask for a recount and given the close margin, the state will pay for it. The final margin was 740,087 for Kloppenburg and 739,883 for Prosser, both sides at 50% of the vote in this closely contested election.
What will outcome mean?
It was supposed to be a dignified campaign for a job that's not supposed to be political. But UW-Madison political experts say the outcome of the State Supreme Court election could reaffirm the national Tea Party movement. Or it will show that Republicans bit off more than they could chew in taking on the public employee unions.
Political scientist Charles Franklin said that if incumbent Justice David Prosser wins, it will show that a highly organized opposition won't necessarily bring down the GOP. But if JoAnne Kloppenburg wins, Franklin said it would be a "strong signal" that the Republicans have over-reached their mandate from last November.
UW political scientist Howard Schweber said several GOP governors with Tea Party ties have seen their approval ratings fall as they take on the public unions, and Wisconsin's Scott Walker is not the only one.
If Prosser loses, Schweber said GOP candidates nationally might think about "hitching their star" to the Tea Party wagon.
But if Prosser wins, Schweber said it could show that the Tea Party roots are deeper than what they appeared to be by watching the pro-union protests at the Capitol this winter.
Ready for another Florida?
A judge - or several judges - may end up deciding the Wisconsin Supreme Court election, similar to the way the U.S Supreme Court decided Florida's vote in the 2000 presidential election.
But in an ironic twist, it appears that David Prosser's fellow state justices could have the final say as to whether he's re-elected or not.
Preliminary election totals appear to show that challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg defeated Justice Prosser with only the Jefferson County town of Lake Mills yet to report. She had a lead of over 200 votes with the final precinct still out - and the town of Lake Mills didn't have enough ballots for Prosser to overcome his razor-thin deficit.
The AP, which keeps the tally, says it will double-check the numbers from all 72 counties and then release updated statewide totals.
Prosser, if he indeed lost, could seek a recount after the counties finish canvassing their ballots. Observers then expect the recount results to be challenged in court.
State law says the Supreme Court will choose a trial judge - preferably a reserve judge - to hear the challenge. It can then be appealed to the Fourth District Appellate Court in Madison.
The law does not dictate the next court of jurisdiction. But Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said there's no doubt it would be the State Supreme Court.