The pro-union forces in Wisconsin aren't quitting after the huge standoff between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Democrats earlier this year over a plan to eliminate collective bargaining rights for unionized public employees. Walker eventually won, but at a high cost to his and really any Wisconsin Republican's standing. Union supporters have stayed mobilized and are hoping to recall up to eight Republican state senators later this year, after all. But the first big test of their organized might came last night in a Wisconsin Supreme Court election for Chief Justice, the type of off-calendar race that few would usually give a crap about. And now it's too close to call.
The race is between sitting Republican justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg, the union-backed challenger. As TPM explains, this never should have been close: "Prosser should have been safe in all of this, as incumbent justices — especially conservative ones, backed by the state's business establishment — almost always win re-election. Even two weeks ago, a prominent Democrat in Wisconsin told TPM in an off-the-record conversation (now cleared for publication) that they believed Kloppenburg didn't stand a chance, and Prosser should win by double digits. But in the state's hyper-polarized environment, this race quickly became a hot contest."
It didn't help Prosser's chances when it came out that he called liberal Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a "total bitch" during a case. Ladies don't like being called that! And as you can see in the television ad above, the Kloppenburg Army made some hay of this.
Anyway, the tally from last night's vote is still too close to call and will probably end in a recount. "With 3,627 precincts out of 3,630 reporting on the Associated Press's spreadsheet," according to TPM's last count, "Kloppenburg has 739,574 votes to Prosser's 739,350 — a lead of 224 votes."
Can Kloppenburg pull it off and save unions forever? Well... maybe the first part!