A People’s Victory in Wisconsin: Supreme Court Race Too Close To Call

Apr 06 2011 Published by under Uncategorized


Assistant Attorney General Joanne Kloppenburg has done the impossible in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, squeaking out a very narrow lead over incumbent Justice David Prosser. The race is so close that a recount seems imminent.

The odds were stacked against Joanne Kloppenburg in this election; she was out-spent in this race, unseating a sitting justice is exceptionally rare, and she was squaring off against an incumbent in an off year election. Just two months ago, Kloppenburg was down by 30 points.

But then Governor Walker and the Republicans began attacking workers with Walker’s anti-collective bargaining bill, which threatens the rights Wisconsin has long stood for. It will likely end up in the Wisconsin supreme court. This was a game changer for Kloppenburg.

Wisconsinites, surprised by the Governor’s agenda, protested day after peaceful day. They marched, they sang, they held signs. Governor Walker wasn’t listening. In fact, when at first his bill wasn’t passed, the Republicans jammed it through an emergency meeting without a quorum. They did this with the access to the Capitol restricted with only one open door, as the people protested outside, including Democratic lawmakers who were locked out.

Later a judge ruled that the Republicans’ meeting did not appear to meet the requirements for an emergency meeting, and so it appears the Wisconsin Republicans violated open meeting laws. The people peacefully protested. After that, the Republicans violated two judge’s orders to restrain and enjoin them from publishing the bill. The people protested. Walker still wouldn’t listen.

With the bill set to go to the Supreme Court and Prosser outed by Walker’s own Chief Counsel as a rubber stamp for Walker’s agenda, the people knew they needed to Get Out the Vote for this election. And get out the vote they did. By 7 PM many districts were reporting record turnout. Democrats were standing by to go to court to ask for the polling places to be held open an extra hour to accommodate all of the voters. One district ran out of ballots. They needed extra volunteers to process all of the student voters.

Tuesday morning, with 99% reporting at 10:17 AM CDT, we have David Prosser with 739,070 or 50% of the votes, and Joanne Kloppenburg leading just barely with 739,381, or 50%. It sure looks like a recount will be ordered.

The Journal Sentinel reported:

Either candidate can request a recount once the votes have been officially canvassed. If the margin between the candidates is less than 0.5% – as it is likely to be in this race – the state charges nothing to conduct the recount. If the margin is between 0.5% and 2%, the candidate asking for the recount must pay $5 per ward.

Because of the closeness of the race, a Milwaukee election commissioner has asked police to guard ballots overnight. Robert Spindell, who sits on the city’s Election Commission and is active in Republican politics, wrote in an email that he had made the request “until such time that a more formal procedure can be set in place.”

Republicans attempted to paint Kloppenburg as an activist judge, when in fact she has never stated how she would rule on the anti-union bill. Republicans should know that since it appears their bill was passed improperly (according to testimony and evidence presented in Judge Sumi’s court), it would take an activists judge to ignore those facts. That said, should Kloppenburg prevail, one would hope she will do as a judge should do, and vote based on the facts presented to the court, which suggests that neither justice can know how they will vote today on a matter not yet presented to them. Prosser has claimed he was an independent, while Walker insiders, including his Chief Counsel (who, as an attorney, should know better) claimed that Prosser was necessary to advance Walker’s agenda.

How do they know how Prosser will vote on an issue that has yet to be argued in front of him? That admission alone is exceptionally troubling. I would think the Republicans would want someone whose allegiance was to the law, not to a cause. But it appears this is not so. And so the people fight on.

No matter who prevails in this race,  Governor Scott Walker is in trouble. This election was seen as a referendum on Walker’s radical agenda and if that’s the case, the people have spoken loudly and clearly. It was a blood bath for Republicans, with Kloppenburg taking districts that Walker won in 2010. The race has far-reaching implications for the 8 state GOP senators up for recall; specifically, GOP state Senator Dan Kapanke looks to be in very hot water, especially considering how swiftly the recall campaign gathered 145% of the signatures needed to file their recall petition.

The peaceful but determined efforts of Wisconsinites are paying off.

Hey Scott, “This is what democracy looks like!”

The spirit of Wisconsinites is infectious; they are leading the way for the rest of the people, fighting back against Draconian Republican Governors determined to destroy the middle class. Getting Kloppenburg’s votes up to 50% against an incumbent in an off year is a noteworthy achievement.

The election results prove that Republicans have already lost major ground in territories where they prevailed in 2010. This election is but one battle in the war of the people against a party bent on destroying their rights. If the gasps of horror and shock at the Prosser headquarters last night were any indication, Wisconsinites brought their righteous anger to the ballot box last night and sent a shiver of fear down the spines of those who thought they were invincible. Prosser was expected to coast in this election, but instead he got a rousing challenge from the people.

This closeness of this race is a victory for the people in Wisconsin; they fought hard and it shows. This morning, smart Republican strategists are sweating as they map out the changes in the districts that went for Walker just months ago.


Update: 2:50 PM Eastern, Klopenburg wins by 206 votes. Recount surely on its way. Please cite these numbers to the next person who tells you they don’t vote because it doesn’t matter.

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