While the final outcome of Tuesday's Wisconsin Supreme Court race likely won't be known until after a recount, one result is already in: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his allies suffered a political loss.
Before the drawn-out controversy over Walker's collective bargaining reforms, Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser seemed poised to cruise to reelection. Prosser won 55 percent of the vote in the February 15 primary, while Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg finished with just 25 percent.
Less than two months later, Prosser finds himself trailing Kloppenburg by a few hundred votes, albeit with a few thousand absentee ballots left to count.
Walker's effort to pare back collective bargaining rights aroused voter discontent over recent months in a state that saw Republicans capture statewide electoral victories in both the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races last November.
Emboldened by the demonstrations and public outcry against Walker, labor unions and liberal interest groups poured money into the Kloppenburg's campaign and mobilized the state's left-leaning voters. Wisconsinites headed to the polls Tuesday at a previously unheard of clip for an off-year April election: an overall voter turnout rate of around 33 percent.
If Kloppenburg's narrow margin holds up through the potential recount, it will be just the fifth time a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice has been unseated since the court's establishment in 1852.
Prosser could still survive a recount and preserve the high court's previous balance. But any electoral momentum Wisconsin Republicans held after last fall's results seems to have evaporated.
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