Wisconsin is now the crucible for Union power, and the fight of small government conservatives versus large government liberals. That fight was supposed to come to a head on Tuesday night, as an election for a spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court as the key experiment.
Unions appear to have again not met the challenge.
Justice David Prosser, a conservative justice who was generally popular in the state, was the target of union and liberal groups, as a proxy for their on going fight over union rights with Republican Governor Scott Walker. Liberals have outspent conservatives 3:1, with over $5 million spent on the race, which likely makes it the most expensive judicial race in American History. Numerous ugly and hateful ads have run, predominantly from the left, to unseat Prosser.
And the best they could buy was…a dead heat.
Last night, it looked like Prosser would lose the first count to Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg. Koppenburg actually declared victory last night. But that changed again this morning, with vote tallies changing every few hours. Prosser now leads by a couple hundred votes. That is with over 1.5 million votes in total. A recount is likely coming.
UPDATE: Prosser now leads by 7,000 votes? Computer error? You got to be kidding. But this is going to raise the ire of the unions and liberals, who thought victory was within their grasp. If the margin stays that large, a recount won’t matter much.
Liberal spin this morning is that Prosser won 55-28 against Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the primary in February. So clearly, liberals closed the gap. But here is the problem…this is the zenith of liberal power in Wisconsin. And likely, this is the nadir of conservative enthusiasm, as they had already achieved there biggest goal in this cycle. It is unlikely that liberals will ever be able to raise the ire of their supporters and increase the enthusiasm gap more than at this moment in time. In an off cycle election, in which conservatives had little reason to vote enthusiastically, the unions still lost.
After a night of liberals celebrating (numerous editorials this morning hailed the victory for liberals), as well as liberals ecstatic that 19 counties flipped from Republican to Democrat (even that has been overstated), there has been stunned silence this afternoon.
Canvassing of votes appears to be going in almost all counties at this point, so the vote totals could go back and forth for a long time. This will certainly go to a recount. And maybe Koppenburg will prevail. In the short run, this won’t matter, as the Collective Bargaining bill will reach the Supreme Court long before Koppenburg even sniffs her seat. But if this is the hardest punch the left has to give on this…we should take it, and look forward to the next round.