Prosser edging Kloppenburg in votes, recount all but assured; Update: Prosser lead grows to 835; Update: Kloppenburg leads by 140; Update: One precinct left

posted at 8:48 am on April 6, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

In one of the most politically charged judicial elections since Rose Bird lost her seat in California, Wisconsin voters marched to the polls and delivered … a dead heat.  Fewer than 600 votes separate incumbent Justice David Prosser and his labor-backed opponent, JoAnne Kloppenburg, with Prosser barely in front.  Almost 1.5 million voters cast ballots in this race, not far from the 2.1 million who voted in November’s Senate race, an indication of the stakes involved in this election:

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.

The recount process may take weeks or even months, depending on who wins the official tally and how hard the other fights.  In Minnesota, we have some experience with recounts, of course, and the one that finally settled the 2008 Senate campaign between Al Franken and Norm Coleman took until the following summer to conclude.  It’s an easy bet that the unions have already begun to flood the zone with lawyers to assist in the recount and cash for operations supporting Kloppenburg.  If anyone in Prosser’s camp wants to heed the lessons of the Minnesota recall, calls should be going out today for a similar effort — and probably should have started a week ago or more.

But the unions have a bigger problem.  Many gave Prosser little chance of holding his seat in this off-year, otherwise sleepy election, as unions organized fiercely to unseat him before the state Supreme Court could hear the challenge to Scott Walker’s law.  Given the usual lack of turnout for April elections in off years, the organizing power of the unions should have been overwhelming, and Prosser should have been toast even in less-progressive areas of the state.  Instead, Wisconsin voters thundered to the polls to support Prosser, and Kloppenburg turned out to do poorly outside of Dane and Milwaukee counties — and even in Milwaukee, Kloppenburg led by just a 57/43 margin.

What should have been a slam-dunk if Walker’s proposal was really as extreme and disaffecting as unions claim turned out to be an even split.  Given their power and the investment of time and money by the unions, this is an eye-opening stumble.

Update: There are still a few precincts left to count, but the number shifted significantly in Prosser’s direction this morning:

As of 7:35 this morning, the Associated Press had results for all but 24 of the state’s 3,630 precincts and Prosser’s overnight lead had grown slightly from fewer than 600 votes to 835 votes.

I think we’re heading into a recount either way, but let’s compare the Minnesota recount numbers.  Norm Coleman went into the recount with a lead of 215 votes out of nearly 3 million cast, and the recount and challenge resulted in a Franken victory of 312 votes.  Assuming Prosser maintains an 835-vote lead before a recount, it’s a significant number with a smaller pool of challenges than we saw in Minnesota.

Update (AP): Good lord. With just 10 precincts still left to report, Kloppenburg now leads by 140 votes — 738,368 to 738,228. Of the 10 remaining precincts, eight are in counties where Kloppenburg currently leads. Gulp.

If you’re holding your breath waiting for the recount to start, exhale now. It’ll be a long, long time coming.

Update (AP): Just five precincts to go now and Kloppenburg’s lead has opened to not quite 500 votes.

Update (AP): As of 12:45 ET, 3629 of 3630 precincts are reporting — and Kloppenburg still leads by 224 votes. Two caveats, though. First, the vote totals didn’t change after the last two precincts came in, so the AP may still be in the process of updating the numbers. Keep an eye out here. And second, the one remaining precinct is in Jefferson Country, which has been leaning towards Prosser. He could still close the gap. Or maybe we’ll end in … a tie.


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Lead has shrunk back down to 206

Supreme Court REPORTING
99%

Joanne Kloppenburg
739,711 50%

David Prosser (inc)
739,505 50%

zauriel on April 6, 2011 at 2:22 PM

So just pipe the f**k down and quit whining about other people’s reactions to this contested election.

MadisonConservative on April 6, 2011 at 2:05 PM

This.

Midas on April 6, 2011 at 2:27 PM

It’s a 50/50 split, that means the GOP will lose no matter what, especially after a recount. It always works that way these days since the left went insane after the 2000 election and targeted Secretaries of State all over the country to replace with left wing cronies. It’s just like a liberal on Wall Street, they are convinced that the only way to do the job right is to be corrupt.

It’s up to the GOP in the legislature to repass this legislation so no activist judge can change the outcome, but yet again I don’t expect that to happen because the GOP always loses their nerve. So the best we can root for now is for Wisconsin to crumble under it’s own public unions. They deserve the government they elect, they deserve the consequences. Just like California.

It’s the same liberal pattern we always see: Obstructionism followed by Judicial Activism.

Daemonocracy on April 6, 2011 at 2:29 PM

RESULTS as of Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 01:31 pm CDT
Election Home
Supreme Court REPORTING 99%
Joanne Kloppenburg 739,711
50%
David Prosser (inc) 739,505
50%

steebo77 on April 6, 2011 at 2:32 PM

LAKE MILLS W1-2

Prosser 378
Klopp 376

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:34 PM

As much as I would like a recount, Wisconsin doesn’t automatically do one. There has to be charges of fraud somewhere. I know it exists, but have you heard any complaints about it?

sandee on April 6, 2011 at 2:38 PM

LAKE MILLS W1-2

Prosser 378
Klopp 376

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:34 PM

Bull sh!t.

steebo77 on April 6, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Someone posted last night that if the result is less than 2%, a candidate can ask for a recount.

crosspatch on April 6, 2011 at 2:41 PM

steebo, if you dont believe, which it is bvious you dont, then goo look for yourself.

Jefferson County

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Dang it, nice typing there by me. Hate not having edit.

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

The Governing board for recounts is already talking about the procedures for a recount. Usually if it is real close, it is automatic, so State pays for the recount.

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:47 PM

RESULTS as of Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 01:47 pm CDT
Election Home
Supreme Court REPORTING 99%
Joanne Kloppenburg 739,714
50%
David Prosser (inc) 739,508
50%

steebo77 on April 6, 2011 at 2:49 PM

steebo, if you dont believe, which it is bvious you dont, then goo look for yourself.

Jefferson County

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Not saying I didn’t believe you that those are the reported results. I just think they push the limits of credulity.

steebo77 on April 6, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Unless there are absentee ballots left to be counted, it’s over. Kloppenburg wins by 204.

Totals = P: 739,886 K:740090

[Jeff. Co. link]

MichaelW on April 6, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Jefferson County

WoosterOh on April 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM

I’m getting nothing from this site. Did we crash it?

SouthernGent on April 6, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Looks like we crashed Jefferson county’s servers. A near-even isn’t all that out of the question given how motivated the left was in this race. Walker won Lake Mills in 2010, but not by a massive margin. It was Walker 551 – Barrett 431. I would have expected this one to be closer than that, and it was.

AngusMc on April 6, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Hmmm … hold the phone. There is one precinct (19th, Lac la Belle) in Jefferson County that shows zero votes for any candidate. Yet the county is showing 41 of 41 precincts for 100% reporting.

What’s up with that?

MichaelW on April 6, 2011 at 3:09 PM

AP website has all precincts in. Kloppenburg by 204.

Wethal on April 6, 2011 at 3:09 PM

I’m not worried, I always figured if Kloppenburg didn’t win outright, the union thugs would steal it for her in the recount. It is kind of pathetic that the libs poured in so much money and barely win. (If they have won that is)

Iblis on April 6, 2011 at 3:10 PM

And the counting is over … 204 vote difference. Damn.

zauriel on April 6, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Total 3630/3630

P 739,886
50%

K 740,090
50%

Schadenfreude on April 6, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Its 204 votes in a race that tallied almost 1.5 million. There’s gonna be a recount.

jimmy the notable on April 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM

This election is proof that public employee unions need to go. It’s a hallmark reason as to why we oppose them. They have successfully poured millions into a state they don’t live in in order to elect a judge with no judicial experience because she’s hinted that she would vote to overturn the budget bill.

So, what was an easy win for Prosser turned into a win for the other side. PEUs get to not only spend union dues to get their chosen person in, they then get to have that person vote on their futures. There is absolutely no bargaining about it if this is how easily the unions can elect a nobody to the highest court in the state.

Why do so many people refuse to see this? Partisan blindness is the only reason you’d neglect to see the abuse of power here.

TheBlueSite on April 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM

And so … what? Does anyone know if there are any absentee votes to be counted or if this sort of tentative report is “final”? You would think that the dipshit lefty SOS in WI would be tripping over himself to declare the result official.

News?

Jaibones on April 6, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I saw something about absentee ballots still need to be counted? Anyone know anything about that?

crazywater on April 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Nevermind re Lac la Belle having no votes reported. There’s only one registered voter there, and s/he apparently didn’t vote.

MichaelW on April 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM

Nobody can tell me with a straight face that out of 1.5 million voters, they are EVENLY TIED about whether or not to re-elect Prosser.

This whole election reeks to high heaven of being manipulated and rigged.

Skywise on April 6, 2011 at 3:20 PM

First thing I’d do as the GOP: find out how many dead people voted and advertise that number. It surely will be over 200.

michaelo on April 6, 2011 at 3:22 PM

It was reported last night that all absentee ballots have been counted and included in the totals.

crosspatch on April 6, 2011 at 3:26 PM

I believe in a vote this close, there is an automatic re-canvassing, after which a candidate can ask for a recount at state expense (because the election is so close).

crosspatch on April 6, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Well good luck to old kloppy. She said what she plans to do in regards to the collective bargaining law that is being held up by another “lovely” woman. Plenty of grounds to make her recuse herself. I’m sure the voters are going to be sorry about this one.

sandee on April 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Well good luck to old kloppy. She said what she plans to do in regards to the collective bargaining law that is being held up by another “lovely” woman. Plenty of grounds to make her recuse herself. I’m sure the voters are going to be sorry about this one.

sandee on April 6, 2011 at 3:32 PM

She’d be protected by the chief justice. Kloppenburg once worked for the CJ, and they are buddies.

Wethal on April 6, 2011 at 3:37 PM

I’m expecting the proverbial car trunk full of Demorat votes to show any moment now. Al Franken will be the driver!

inspectorudy on April 6, 2011 at 3:42 PM

So, all the Prosser folks have to find are 205 illegal democrat votes. As there is likely to be 10 times that number, heck, 100 times that number, he ought to be able to take this thing easily in the recount if he can get enough lawyers involved. I’d never let a dem get by with a 204-vote win margin. That’s gotta be the number of illegal votes cast by them in a single precinct for God’s sake. RECOUNT!

Rational Thought on April 6, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Rational Thought on April 6, 2011 at 3:46 PM

No matter how many you find they will produce more ‘uncounted’ ballots. Remember Minnesota and the comedian they now have for senator because of ballots discovered after the election.

The law passed in the absence of the Democrats will never go into effect. The new senator will uphold the ruling actually in effect and if Walker goes back to re-pass it it will be found unconstitutional be a 4-3 vote, Face it, Walker has been Schwartzeneggered! When he lost his ballot initiatives he turned liberal. We’ll have to wait to see what Walker does after this defeat.

Annar on April 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM

Annar on April 6, 2011 at 4:05 PM

The one part of the law that might be constitutional (assuming a severability clause), and about which the unions care the most, is the ending of the automatic deduction of union dues.

This is a cash stream on which the union leaders count. The money goes towards their fat salaries and political contributions. Other states have passed laws just eliminating this practice without going after other collective bargaining issues.

Wethal on April 6, 2011 at 4:10 PM

At 4pm, with all precincts reporting, she’s up by 104 votes. That’s ridiculous.

She absolutely kicked his ass in Dane County. By around 85k votes.

nukemhill on April 6, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Kristen from POWIP writes that recently Sauk County, WI, negotiated a deal with five different unions.

The local unions conceded to the county the powers to…:

Implement a 0% pay increase each year
Hire and fire at will in the face of economic difficulty

Change or even abolish pay classifications

Deetermine type and level of healthcare coverage offered

Increase healthcare contribution levels over time

Set the level of pension contributions.”

Woah! Suddenly the unions are so reasonable it hurts, huh? When I was tipped about this post, I was confused, because reading this, I thought: My God, that’s more than reasonable. I mean, they’re pretty much giving the county everything it could want.

So… unions are the good guys, maybe?

Well, maybe, but not here.

The unions negotiated a contract for their members that gives their members nothing.

But, it is technically a contract that can be passed quickly.

Which means for the next 33 months, operating under this contract, while getting nothing from their union reps, union members will… retain the privilege of continuing to pay union dues.

What’s the difference between the deal negotiated here and what they could have received from a Walker-regime county? Well, the Walker-regime county probably would have given them more… while the union members also weren’t forced to donate to the union.

So the union bosses get to keep their phoney-baloney jobs, the members get doodly-squat.

Dan Collins writes:

“[W]hatever the unions may say about rights to collective bargaining, they only thing that they’re concerned about, when push comes to shove, is that the state grant them the service of collecting their dues from them directly from the state’s employees. The employees must be in the unions as a condition of their employment, and must grant the unions the right to disburse political contributions ostensibly on their behalf but really without their consent to Democrats almost exclusively.”

AOSHQ.

To follow up on my previous post, getting rid of the automatic deduction is what the unions fear. Without that cash stream, they have to collect dues every month somehow.

Wethal on April 6, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Nevermind re Lac la Belle having no votes reported. There’s only one registered voter there, and s/he apparently didn’t vote.

MichaelW on April 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM

There are people running for Village President and Village Trustee. There must be some voters.

bopbottle on April 6, 2011 at 4:23 PM

Meh. Allah’s right. 204, not 104.

nukemhill on April 6, 2011 at 4:41 PM

“There are people running for Village President and Village Trustee. There must be some voters.”

There are in the village itself, but the vast majority of them (all but one) are located in Waukesha County. The village is split between Waukesha and Jefferson counties.

MichaelW on April 6, 2011 at 4:42 PM

There is a major difference between Democrats and Republicans. If Democrats lose a vote this narrow, they fight for all they are worth. They go over every single ballot if they have to. Republicans seem to simply walk away. When are Republicans going to get some backbone?

crosspatch on April 6, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Whatever happens, remember that the people of the State of Wisconsin did it to themselves. They now have to accept the consequences.

{^_^}

herself on April 6, 2011 at 7:04 PM

And second, the one remaining precinct is in Jefferson Country, which has been leaning towards Prosser.

Leaning? I take this as great news having lived in Jefferson county until a few weeks ago.

If Jefferson county is the last to be counted, Prosser wins! Jefferson county is one of the most conservative counties in Wisconsin, just ask Jim Sensennbrenner…who regularly wins re-election with over 65% of the vote.

91Veteran on April 6, 2011 at 9:27 PM

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