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Wis. Supreme Court challenger claims win

Wis. Supreme Court challenger claims win
Protestors chant below Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office after his budget address to a joint session of the legislature at the state Capitol on March 1, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. Walker's budget proposal includes $1.5 billion in cuts in aid to public schools and local government but does not raise taxes or fees, or include furloughs or widespread layoffs. UPI/Brian Kersey | License Photo

MADISON, Wis., April 6 (UPI) -- Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg Wednesday claimed victory over incumbent state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.

The ballot count from Tuesday's election has yet to be certified by state elections officials and Kloppenburg's unofficial margin over Prosser is so thin -- a few hundred votes out of an estimated 1.5 million cast -- a recount seems certain. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday the difference between Kloppenburg's and Prosser's vote totals is so small, it may warrant a recount paid by the state under current Wisconsin law.

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In a statement Wednesday, Kloppenburg said 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," she said. "As I have traveled the state, people tell me they believe partisan politics do not belong in our courts."

The fate of a contested Wisconsin law meant to strip public employees of most collective bargaining rights may be determined in the state supreme court. It was not certain Wednesday whether legal challenges to the way in which Republican lawmakers acted on the bill will reach the court before Aug. 1, when the winner of Tuesday's election is scheduled to be sworn in.

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The election Tuesday was seen as a proxy referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's controversial law, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.

A recount, if one is needed, would be the first statewide in more than 20 years and could cost up to $1 million, officials said. A candidate can request the Government Accountability Board order a county-by-county recount in all 72 counties if the candidates' vote totals are within one-half of 1 percent.

Conservatives hold a 4-3 majority on the state high court, which may eventually be asked to rule on the legality of the union law. Voter turnout was heavy across the state after interest groups on both sides spent millions, the newspaper said.

Wisconsin's last statewide recount in 1989 was on a proposed amendment to the state constitution to allow income tax credits for property or sales taxes, the Journal Sentinel said. The voter referendum was defeated by 1,098 votes.

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