On February 15th, Wisconsin held a special election primary for the swing-vote seat on the 7-person State Supreme Court. Current Supreme Court Justice David Prosser (R) emerged the winner, by a comfortable (120,000-plus votes) margin. He received almost exactly 55% of the vote.
State Supreme Court elections in Wisconsin are officially “non-partisan.” The term of office is 10 years. Most people believed that Judge Prosser would win the general election vote as easily as he did the primary (Wisconsin election law calls for the top two primary vote-getters to run-off in a general election). And that would be that.
Democrats and union officials, looking for payback, fastened upon the special election for State Supreme Court Justice on April 5th. They reasoned that if they could unseat Judge Prosser, the State Supreme Court might rule in their favour on the legality of Walker’s “union-busting” legislation.
As a result, the most closely watched election in the United States this year will be held in the state of Wisconsin next Tuesday.
Justice Prosser is a fairly straightforward Wisconsin Republican jurist with an independent streak. His challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, is a fairly straightforward liberal activist with an independent streak of her own. But none of that matters. The Wisconsin State Supreme Court special election is about one thing only: do you approve or disapprove of what Governor Scott Walker has done?
Republicans were slow to catch on, as Republicans often are. As a result, the race is now widely seen as close, with an “enthusiasm gap” favouring the Democrats and the unions. Republicans and their conservative allies are pouring resources into the state, hoping to stave off an embarrassing defeat. But the “feel” of the race, at least right now, leans Democratic.
New polls will be released over the weekend. We’ll keep you posted. If the Republicans lose in Wisconsin, it could significantly damage their efforts to curb the power of public employee unions.
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