In Wisconsin Supreme Court Race, A Deadlock

In the closely watched Supreme Court race in Wisconsin, a contest with national implications, with 97 percent of the precincts reporting the incumbent conservative-leaning Justice David Prosser clung to a narrow lead over the liberal-leaning Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg of fewer than 2,000 votes. More from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

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 97% of the vote counted, less than 2,000 votes separated the candidates.

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 collective bargaining, which caused massive weeks-long protests in the Capitol, a boycott of the Senate by Democrats and attempts to recall senators from both parties.

Interest groups on both sides had portrayed the election as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker's agenda and particularly on a controversial law sharply restricting public employee unions. Conservatives backed Prosser, and liberals supported Kloppenburg, even though the candidates themselves insisted they were politically neutral.

Legal challenges to the new law - which would eliminate most collective bargaining for most public employees - are expected to reach the high court, but it's not clear if the justices would take up the case before Tuesday's winner is scheduled to be sworn in Aug. 1.

A recount seems likely. Either candidate can request a recount once the votes have been officially canvassed. If the margin between the candidates is less than 0.5 percent, there is no charge to the candidate to conduct the recount. If the margin is between 0.5 percent and 2 percent, the candidate asking for the recount must pay $5 per ward.

As of 2:14 AM CDT, Justice David Prosser held a 585 vote lead over Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. Prosser has received 733,074 votes to Kloppenburg's 732,489 votes.

UPDATE: The margin with 99 percent of precincts reporting remains 585 votes. However, of the 34 uncounted precincts, most of them are in counties that voted for Kloppenburg, including 12 in Milwaukee and 1 in Dane (which includes Madison).

Tags: Wisconsin Politics (all tags)

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