The race between state Supreme Court challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg and incumbent Justice David Prosser appeared too close to call, hours after the polls closed across Wisconsin Tuesday night. Both candidates told supporters to head home, with Prosser holding a razor thin lead over his challenger.
Prosser says he remains optimistic about his chances of winning another ten year term on the high court, after holding on to the lead for a good portion of the night. However, he admits “anything can happen” and he does expect a recount no matter what.
“There are pockets of votes still to be counted around the state,” Kloppenburg told supporters gathered at the Edgewater Hotel in Madison at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. That was shortly after the Associated Press said the race was too close to call.
“We won’t know ’til tomorrow,” said Kloppenburg, an assistant state attorney general. “It’s not over yet, we’re still hopeful.”
The race for the Supreme Court, normally seen as a non-partisan election, has drawn massive attention in recent weeks with third party groups spending millions of dollars on advertising attacking the two candidates. The race has increasingly been seen as a referendum on the changes to the collective bargaining rights of public employees recently approved in the Legislature.
In a brief speech to supporters, Prosser said “we’ve weathered the nuclear blast, and I’m still standing” and that he appears to have survived the most difficult assault on a person’s character in the history of the judiciary.
Statewide turnout for Tuesday’s election was estimated at almost 1.5 million votes cast in the Supreme Court race.