Wisconsin race too close to call in wake of budget battle
Protestors demonstrated in the capitol rotunda on March 1, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin.
April 6th, 2011
05:35 PM ET
11 years ago

Wisconsin race too close to call in wake of budget battle

(CNN) - A once-obscure election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court that turned into a referendum for Gov. Scott Walker's controversial anti-union initiatives is too close to call Wednesday and likely headed toward a recount.

Kevin Kennedy, Wisconsin's chief election official told reporters Wednesday that the unofficial totals show "about a 200 vote difference" between Justice David Prosser, who is expected to be sympathetic toward the governor's policies and JoAnne Kloppenburg, a state attorney general who enjoyed support from several unions.

According to Kennedy, the accountability board is reviewing the ballots and making sure the results are accurate. Once the results are certified, the losing candidate has three business days to decide whether or not to request a recount.

Kloppenburg released a statement Wednesday declaring victory based on the unofficial results.

"Wisconsin voters have spoken and I am grateful for, and humbled by, their confidence and trust. I will be independent and impartial and I will decide cases based on the facts and the law. As I have traveled the State, people tell me they believe partisan politics do not belong in our Courts," Kloppenburg said in a statement. "I look forward to bringing new blood to the Supreme Court and focusing my energy on the important work Wisconsin residents elect Supreme Court justices to do."

Independent groups from the left and right have spent more than $2.5 million dollars over the past two weeks on television commercials to try and influence the outcome of the technically non-partisan election.

Including Prosser, the current court is divided 4-3 between conservative-leaning and liberal-leaning justices. Thus, Prosser's seat could prove decisive to Walker's recent steps to eliminate certain union rights if those policies are contested in the court later this year.

Prosser has said he does not necessarily agree with Walker's moves, but unions nevertheless drummed up support for Kloppenburg, who they believe will be a reliable vote in their corner.

- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz, Alexander Mooney and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: Scott Walker • Wisconsin
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Bill

    doesnt matter. If liberals dont win they will go to the court system to win and overturn democracy which they dont like anyway.

    April 6, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Sgt. Joe.

    The Dems can't match the money pouring in to Republican coffers via the likes of the Koch brothers and corporations who they've conveniently deemed "human". Sad state of affairs; our country is in for a deeper divide should this continue. Good bye middle class.

    April 6, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. T'sah from Virginia

    Wow – I was hoping Kloppenburg won!!! This is why EVERY vote counts and those who did not vote and wanted PROSSER out – failed!!!!!

    This is amazing that this Attorney General came from nowhere and almost beat PROSSER who at any other given time, would not have had a problem winning..... But, WI has very good voting practices and tend to give out more positive results than any other state. The recount – hopefully – will give Kloppenburg a little more of a push so she can WIN!!

    This should send a message to WALKER that he does NOT only represent his side of the fence – the RECALLS are still happening and there are more races in 2012!

    April 6, 2011 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    I'm sure a recount will be done. I don't trust any state entity conducting the recount. Dictator Walker has already proven that he's a scumbag and will stoop to any level to get his way.

    April 6, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. phoenix86

    Wisconsin best make sure the votes are checked. Who knows how much fraud the unions have undertaken there to protect their gravy train.

    April 6, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    I find it amazing that so many "wannabe millionaires" can be so easily duped into believing in an ideology that wants to keep them in their own economic caste. There is still hope for these victims of the Pied Piper. Many are starting to wake up and realize what is really going on.

    This vote is a turning point. I do not think the table has turned far enough, not yet.

    April 6, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Name Stradivarious

    Judges are supposed to be non partisan. They are supposed to judge the dispute by the standards of the law as it was written. They are not supposed to judge in favor of the majorities wishes.. Today we have tyranny of the majority, and the majority has usurped the legislative branch to rule. Any election of judges, any confirmation hearing of judges that take into account whether a prospectivevjudge is liberal or conservative, is corruption on display.

    April 6, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Janet

    I think it's okay if the Republicant wins. It will teach the Democrats that EVERY VOTE IS IMPORTANT. They didn't vote in November and look at the mess we're in! Get off your butt and vote – or live with the adverse consequences of having the crazies in charge.

    April 6, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. Dave

    This could be interesting!!!

    April 6, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. USNdiver

    I just love the tactics of the left . These peaceful respectfull loving protestors that did millions in damage that my taxes will have pay for (along with their saleries ) . Stack the court with people that make instead of apply the law , hte peoples will be damned .

    April 6, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Zip

    If 50% of our population has been duped into believing the GOP, I'm afraid our country doesn't have much chance moving forward. I hope the rich will be kind to us.

    April 6, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. Brandon

    If she sat on this case, she'd have to recuse herself anyway since the unions paid for so much of her campaign.

    If she didn't she could be removed anyway. This is a non-issue.

    April 6, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. Rudy2Shoes

    .Of course I am a Kloppenburg supporter, or rather a Walker non-supporter (working class people are always in a position to have to vote against some candidate since no party represents working class people; it would be nice to someday be able to actually vote FOR someone). The remaining uncounted precincts are in the Milwaukee and Madison areas–strongly Democratic and pro-labor areas which bode well for Kloppenburg. Even if Klopp wins however, there is the issue of negative and misleading campaign ads that will detract from the glory of the victory. I wish they hadn't done that. The message of "Labor" is powerful enough to win elections without despicable tactics associated with Republican campaigns

    April 6, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    A 50/50 race in which Prosser previously knocked the socks off Kloppenburg during the primary a few months back 55/25 . . . ought to send chills down the backs of TeaPers nationally. Looks as if TeaPers are wearing out their welcome in Wisconsin. Good.

    April 6, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  15. Four and The Door

    Scott Walker didn't take drastic measures to bring Wisconsin's financial condition under control because it was popular. No, popular happens when you give money to every cause and make everyone happy happy happy. Some of Wisconsin's previous governors are probably popular.

    But what Wisconsin, California, Illinois, New Jersey... and a bunch of other states in financial trouble need right now are governors like Scott Walker who step up and do their job to manage these states through their problems. They do not need more governors to perpetuate the problems just to make their job easy.

    April 6, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. Sniffit

    Of course, the Dem candidate completely obliterated the GOPer for Milwaukee Couty Executive, Walker's old job. That one might actually be a statement. The "news" media won't report that one though of course...too decisive and doesn't allow for false equivalency controversy.

    This election thogh, not so much a statement really since it's so close...unless you take into account that a month or two ago, the predictions were that Prosser would waltz right over Kloppenburg....then you can surmise that the closeness of this, even if she eventually loses, indicates a fairly big statement that people aren't pleased with Walker and his GOPer cronies.

    April 6, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    I pray the the Wisconsin GOP gets everything they so richly deserve!

    April 6, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Enough is Enough

    A system that hires without discretion, promotes without considering performance, and lays off teachers without regard to merit cannot truely serve its citizens. Unions only care about themselves.

    April 6, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Dean

    This election proves what we all know. That the Supreme Court is not about any constitution or rule of law. It is about what political party they represent. Is there not an honest person in all of politics or government?

    April 6, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  20. Marie MD

    Walker and other governors want to screw the poor and the middle class even more because when you are making, as a teacher, policeman, firefighter, about $45,000 a year you should be able to make ends meet and stop complaining. So you can't afford two or three homes or have your very own lear jet. That is not what breaking unions is all about. It's about people whining because some have to work two jobs!
    Man up just ike the filthy rich and the millionaires in crongress do even when the rethugs have a cause not a budget per from frown man ryan to shut down government!

    April 6, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. gt

    unions were all in......to bad....tax payers now see the lite on teachers pay... another abuse that needs to be look at is collge and university pay , hours work and benifits... i will bet there is alot of waste and abuse there too... maybe then college tution increase will hault....

    April 6, 2011 11:41 am at 11:41 am |