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Kloppenburg, Prosser Super-Tight With a Handful of Precincts Remaining

(Updated at 2:00 am CT) Dunn County reported an additional 229-vote increase for Kloppenburg, bringing the margin down to 356 votes. Wow.

(Updated at 8:00 am CT) The Milwaukee County precincts that came in actually favored Prosser. He’s back out to a 606-vote lead with 19 precincts left to report. Most of the precincts left are in Sauk and Ashland Counties, where Kloppenburg did well, but there may not be a lot of votes there.

Full story below…

After a see-saw night that saw both David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg trade the lead in the Wisconsin state Supreme Court election, the race is almost certainly headed to a recount.

Nearly 1.5 million ballots were cast across Wisconsin on Tuesday, an incredible turnout for a judicial race in a spring election. The labor uprising and backlash against Scott Walker’s anti-union bill, as well as the fact that the election broke known spending records for independent advertising in the state, can account for the intensity and enthusiasm.

As of 1:30 am CT, out of those 1.5 million ballots, 585 votes separate Prosser from Kloppenburg, with over 99% of all precincts reporting. A late count of ballots from Eau Claire County were processed by hand and brought Kloppenburg nearly even. Of the remaining 34 precincts to report, all of them but 2 come from areas where Kloppenburg performed well, including 8 precincts in Milwaukee County (57-43 Kloppenburg), 6 precincts in Ashland County (71-29 Kloppenburg) and 8 precincts in Sauk County (55-45 Kloppenburg). On average, Kloppenburg won votes in the counties with remaining precincts by 62-38. It’s worth noting that it’s possible some of these precincts are “empty” and all the votes have actually been counted. The AP has been tracking the numbers but they’ve been a little behind the curve. There’s also talk of 8,000 uncounted absentee ballots in Milwaukee County.

Kloppenburg addressed supporters, telling them the race is too close to call. She thanked them and said, “it’s not over yet.”

And that’s quite true. In fact, we’re well within the 0.5% needed to trigger a recount at no cost to the campaign. Whether or not the recount is called for is up to the trailing candidate. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes, that recount could be followed up by litigation, which could ultimately have to be decided by the state Supreme Court. The winner of this race would not be sworn in until August 1, so there’s time to work this recount out.

This would only be the second time in the last 44 years that a sitting Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin was defeated for re-election. In the primary election in February, Prosser won a comfortable 55% of the vote. That it was this close at all speaks to the energy generated by the youth/labor/progressive alliance. Turnout in blue areas like Dane County was off the charts on Tuesday.

And regardless of the Kloppenburg-Prosser race, there were some tangible victories for that alliance as well. Chris Abele, the Democrat seeking the Milwaukee County Executive seat once held by Scott Walker, crushed his opponent, State Assemblyman Jeff Stone, by a 61-39 margin. Stone voted for the anti-union bill, and paid the price. Other Democrats on the ballot today did well.

But all eyes are definitely on that state Supreme Court race. We just won’t know the outcome for sure for a while.

…I just ran some numbers on the state Assembly primary in the 94th district. The former Assemblyman there joined Scott Walker’s administration so there’s a special election. In the primary, Democrats got 8959 votes and Republicans 7688 votes. That’s not a definitive stat, but this was the district pinpointed to me by the Wisconsin Dems as one where the Democrat had a shot. The general election, between Jon Lautz (R) and Steve Doyle (D), is in just four weeks.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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