Thursday, April 7, 2011

Riding high(er) in Winnebago, Prosser Now Leads in Wisconsin

This may take a while folks, so sit back and enjoy the spectacle of it all as we all as we seek to figure out what it all means.

Updated election returns from Winnebago County late yesterday now gives a 44-vote lead in the race for Wisconsin state supreme court to incumbent Justice David Prosser, the conservative candidate who was a shoe-in for re-election until Gov. Scott Walker picked a fight with state employees, their families, friends and supporters.

Now Prosser and other Republicans have become surrogates for Walker in the eyes on an angry electorate. GOP state senators had been the primary targets for recall elections, but the race for state supreme court, which may eventually have to rule on the legality of how collective bargaining was stripped from workers, made for an early test proxy vote.

Conservatives surely understood the significance of the race, greatly outspending the backers of Prosser's liberal challenger, assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg. "One liberal group seeking to elect challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg spent an estimated $1,365,340. Four conservative groups seeking to re-elect Justice Prosser spent a combined $2,216,120," The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University reported this week.

The drama surrounding the race shifted today amid reports that "updated election returns posted on a Wisconsin county's website would flip the winner of the Wisconsin state supreme court race," the Associated Press reported.

"The Associated Press verified unofficial Winnebago County election returns on Wednesday morning, but the county updated its numbers at 2:27 that afternoon to show incumbent Justice David Prosser with 710 more votes and assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg with 466 more," the AP explained.

"The county is now canvassing results to make them official as is every one of the state's 72 counties. But if the numbers hold up, Prosser would be ahead of Kloppenburg by 40 votes. Almost 1.5 million votes were cast in the race that is almost certain to be decided in a recount that could take weeks," AP said.

As the vote swings back and forth, each side naturally chirps that the other side is cheating without substantial proof at this point. Have no doubt that rainmakers on both sides will surely spend money to try to find examples of voter fraud, but for now the count continues.

John McCormack on The Blog at the conservative Weekly Standard points to the back and forth swings in the vote count in Minnesota's Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken as a model.

"The point is that before liberals allege voter fraud this time, they should check the plausibility of the numbers by comparing the results now to the results in those precincts from previous elections. And that goes for conservatives too, should the lead swing back to Kloppenburg during the canvas," McCormack writes.

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