Supreme Court Race in Wisconsin Turns into Cliffhanger

Supreme Court Race in Wisconsin Turns into Cliffhanger

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On Tuesday, an election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court provided labor unions the opportunity to speak through voting.  The incumbent Justice David Prosser, a conservative, was defending his seat against a liberal challenger, JoAnne Kloppenburg, an assistant attorney general.

Unions have led large crowd protests opposing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s unpopular — but evidently popular among Republican governors — bill to end collective-bargaining rights for public employees.  There have been countless marches and speeches at the Capitol in Madison and in many other states as well.  The Google and YouTube hits for “Wisconsin Collective Bargaining” are close to endless.   The amount of media material can only be compared to the recent turmoil in Egypt.

Union leaders consider this vote as critical in the fight for workers’ rights.  From the perspective of corporations and Republican governors, however, it is a major battle to eliminate workers’ rights.

Because a challenge to the new law is now before the court, the judicial election is being seen as a proxy in the battle over whether Walker’s union-busting legislation could hold water. The winner could either maintain the court’s conservative position or tilt it to the left. “The stakes,” said Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin-Madison politics professor, “are high.”

And the result is still not known. At one point it appeared Kloppenburg had a razor thin lead of 204 votes. But late Wednesday officials in Waukesha County, a Republican stronghold, announced that they had discovered an error in the vote count. The corrected count, they said, gives 7,582 more votes to Prosser.

That all but guarantees a recount.

This is the first year that nonpartisan publicly funded judicial elections went into effect in Wisconsin, but with outside influences and interest groups seeking to turn Wisconsin into a testing ground for 2012 politics, the election was partisan to the max.  Liberal and conservative groups have spent millions.  “Interest in the race has soared as liberal-leaning organizations have attacked Prosser as a ‘rubber stamp’ for Walker, and business groups have warned that a Kloppenburg victory could endanger Walker’s legislative accomplishments if and when the Supreme Court rules on challenges to the legislation,” the Brennan Center said.

With the vote so close, and with the future of workers’ rights at stake, both union supporters and collective-bargaining opponents will have sleepless nights ahead.

48 COMMENTS

  1. An audit of Nickolaus' handling of the 2010 election found she needed to take steps to improve security and backup procedures, including not sharing passwords.

    The audit was requested after the county's director of administration said Nickolaus had been uncooperative with attempts to have county experts review her systems and confirm backups were in place.

    Yep no problem here folks…..move along

    • ssaintc — I've observed your posted comments on several different websites including this one, all purveying the very same nonsense about why you think Nickolaus' handling previous elections, etc. is somehow relevant to the current vote count issue. Well, what you offer has about as much relevance to the vote count as it has to the price of tea in China. The established facts show that if Waukesha County Clerk Nickolaus had not omitted the correct (and verified, I might add) vote totals for the City of Brookfield precincts from her initial submission to the State of Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, Justice Prosser would have enjoyed the 7,500 or so vote lead all along. In that case there would have been nothing really different about the outcome, except perhaps for Kloppenburg's earlier victory announcement based merely on a 204 vote lead as per the unofficial (and incorrect) AP tally. That announcement would not have occurred, thus sparing the Democrat candidate some embarassment that she basically has brought on herself.

        • Sandra — I infer from your reply that you agree with my conclusion (at least with respect to the correct vote totals). Thank you. Your free to make gratuitous (even totally baseless) comments about Koch Bros. etc but you honestly sound rather clueless with your second sentence.

  2. " Unions have led large crowd protests opposing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s unpopular — but evidently popular among Republican governors — bill to end collective-bargaining rights for public employees. "

    Unpopular? Unpopular among public union workers? yes. Unpopular among the majority of the people of wisconsin? no.

    The people have spoken and we have full faith in Walker, he promised to bring fiscal responsibility and that is exactly what he is delivering.

    Also, "That all but guarantees a recount.", that is not correct. A 7500 point lead certainly reduces the chances of a recount because the spread is large enough that the loser will now have to finance the recount (as opposed to the state).

  3. It's a cliffhanger because the ultra-liberal writer of the article wants it to be. If the liberal candidate were ahead by 7,500 +/- it would in no way be a cliffhanger; it would be a "landslide"

  4. The author of this article seems very liberal……..”union busting” “workers rights” …..next time please just report the facts…I don’t think anyone in wisconsin is trying to hamper workers rights..there just trying to fix a problem 169000 a year for a bus driver is very high…I know the driver worker a lot of overtime to get that amount but still…169000 is way to much

  5. This writer is a craven left wing fool who should be fired for such stupidity.

    The election is over and if kloppenwhatever had the character of a flea, she would concede.
    She demanded Prossed concede when SHE had a 200 vote lead.

    Taxpayers all across America hate public unions and the crap that they pull.
    Federal worker unions do not have the same goofy privileges as these state employee unions.

    Ohio has passed essentially the same law as Wisconsin.
    Indiana has already taken similar action.

    There has never in history been a turnaround of 7,000 votes in any election recount. Let the union fools pay for the recount and then tuck tail and run back where they bleong.

  6. Partisan article…I saw an unfounded mention of Prosser being a "rubber stamp" for Walker…yet NO MENTION of the fact that Kloppenburg was an intern for the current Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court. Although the article is more of a love letter than a piece of journalism…it is bothersome that such a large error could be made in the vote count. It seems shady.

  7. Um..it is was a cliffhanger a couple of days ago for, maybe, about 24 hours at best.. You might consider taking one of those current event classes at your local community college. I hear they give directors of Legislative and Government Affairs firms a 10% discount.

  8. Good for Wisconsin whose smarter citizen's don't wan't to end up like Detroit. Unions prettty much destroy and ruin any industry and region they control. The things America used to be the greatest in, and now are near the bottom, include most union controlled institutions like education, steel, automobiles, textiles and general manufacturing. Remove the unions and America can be the best again!

    • Yea that 0.5 % of the working population that earns a whopping 1 % of GDP is whats destroying this country. Has nothing too do with the 1% of American's who ship jobs over seas so they can pocket 50 of America's GDP not to mention a large portion of other nations GDP. It could have something to do with people believing that A buisness gives a s%^& where they get there money or that any buisness has a vested intrest in this country other than taking it's cash. Power through money and utter greed destroys this country. While i'm sure the Union members are just like the vast mojority in this country in wanting more, when you consider the facts, your argument really has no merit.

  9. The author of the article obviously does not have a clear idea of what "cliffhanger" means, and makes himself look as if he is vocabulary-challenged by using it. If he wanted merely to slant the story to a leftist angle, and actually knew what the word meant, he would not have used it in any case.

  10. Comments and opinions don't decide elections. Voters do. Why not leave it at that and let the
    victors proceed to function without any animosity.

  11. All I will say is:

    Out with the Lehman Brother Robbers who have already robbed us blind and sent that money to China to start with –

    Then they have allowed the Chinese to hold the Companies doing business or all OUR manufacturing there to hold the Corporations by the NECK!

    When the Chinese shake them by the neck over there for ANY reason or criticism they DON’T like they squeal here and do their bidding! That includes the Supreme Court JUDGES selected by them with teh money and necks the Chinese hold them at RANSOM with! So all the BLIND money and funding the election process receives comes from OUR Corporations HELD at RANSOM in China – Do or die HOLD on the necks of the Corporations and so the Supreme Court sided with UNLIMITED FUNDING ALLOWED by “CORPORATIONS” the FUNDING BY? THE Chinese PAPER CORPORATE TIGERS who are running our COUNTRY NOW!!!

    So I say ALL the LEHMAN ROBBERS OUT!!!

    ALL THE ENRON ROBBERS OUT!

    ALL THE DEREGULATION FREE FOR ALL CUT-THROAT TABLE BANGING and POPULACE BANGING and AMERICAN SOCIETY BANGING MAD MADDOFS OUT!!!

    If not for UNIONS – THIS COUNTRY WOULD NOT HAVE 40 HOUR WEEKS
    IF NOT FOR UNIONS this COUNTRY would not have the HUMAN RIGHTS we have
    IF NOT FOR THE UNIONS THIS COUNTRY would NOT have the LIVING STANDARD we have!
    IF NOT for the UNIONS we would be a country FULL of ROBBERS BARONS and the rest would be Oliver Twists – living on scraps they throw at us

    We will SOON be living as NOW on scraps the CHINESE throw at us through the Corporations !

    Bank of America AFTER all THAT!!! Paid ZERO Tax

    GE paid ZER TAX

    All Chinese favoring Corporations PAY ZERO TAXES to the Society they are profiting from and ROBBING BLIND!!!

    WAKE UP AMERICA AND SMELL THE COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nat,
      You are wrong. If not for unions America would be better off. Auto industry, steel mills, America in decline due to Unions …Unions breed lazy people who don't fear for their jobs so don't perform. The publis worker unions are a drag on this nation. Your thinking is askewed Nat. You mix emotion with convoluded half truths.
      America can no longer support unions and have done so too long .You blame everyone except organized labor.Chinese work hard and produce much. Unions have contributed directly to this by artificially raising pay until jobs disappeared to Chian and other countries. The 40 hour work week,? Read up on Henry Ford and how the 40 hour work week developed..
      You are clearly so wrong and guesss what; I bet you'll disagree …so sad

      • Dont forget OSHA!! I think your right..Anti union people need to get non union police,firefighters,teachers and go to hospitals with non union workers. Dont drive on roads built buy union workers.If you want lights and heat might want to support your Local IBEW. Get your non union water and sewer too. When your sitting in your office and the big one hits thank God union workers built it!

    • ????? Why shout?? OIC- you have nothing to say. BTW GE not only did not pay taxes, but got 3.5 billion back in tax credits, of course, they were for doing the things the government wanted industry to do, but are not yet profitable, such as alternative energy. The Chinese have out competed us at least partly because of unreasonable union demands that were granted and at least part of our national debt as well. Unions can do good things, but that does not mean they are good, particularly if their demands are too great, some unions have followed this path and when they do, they deserve to lose the protections.

    • Ditto without caps – not necessary. Unions have done a lot of good, this is obvious. Not just for themselves – teachers' unions and nurses' unions also look out for students and patients. Look at the educational/physical stats in the countries with more and less rights for teachers and nurses.

    • If not for unions rap is not true. Forty hour work weak was way to attract labor to certain activities. Unions did help make it a federal law though. It doesn’t seem right that the govt should have that kinda say. It is another interferance in lives of americans. Freedom to contract with employer is now more limited if you want to work in field dominated by unions. They are relics of the old guilds that destroyed new inventions so as to protect their livelyhoods. Kinda feel sorry for those who will end up losing benefits though, but unrestained defecit spending will cause colapse anyway. China is interesting to study but not sure about you comment. Cheers!

  12. .Yet another obviously slanted author, Britton Loftin is a Political Strategist and Director of a Legislative & Government Affairs firm (whatever that means) and certainly he has authored this lazy brand of half baked attempt at journalism on behalf of the unions, probably a progressive union supporter.. A freeloader.
    Abandon all facts, slant the story, scare people , (if you can). .
    Public Worker Unions are, and have been a drag on our society for some time and has devolved over the years to nothing more than a subset of communistic party members who exist only to line their pockets with taxed dollars and to spread their cancer corrupting our Republic..
    Workers rights, I am for it; Public Worker Union rights, not hardly. Public Worker Unions want moreIt is clearly time to define this divide, this is not about "worker rights" as the author would like all to believe this is about panicked Public Worker Unions desperate to continue to bleed out everyone else to their own selfish means, and seeing their gravy train disappear is very upsetting to them.
    Everywhere the unions have gained America has lost, the auto industry, steel production, ect, ect and the most appalling is our educational system for our children.
    .

    • So when the Teachers were pointing out all the problems with the changes being made over the last 10 years and they turned out to be completely affirmed by the increased problems created by the "Many children Left Behind" bill. How about the increased educational standards fought for by the Teachers unions. Is it the suggestions by teachers that we need to follow foriegn models of education more closely by including longer school days and increased parent involvement. Or how about the fact the union fought to make accredations such as reading and math certifications something that teachers are rewarded for acheiving.
      I'm certain it has nothing to do with the massive inflation suffered in this century taking a nasty bite out of everyones daily budget is a reason why schools have less money. It certainly won't have anything to do with budget cuts as to why schools will fail more. In the areas with the highest failure rates, it couldn't be that fact that most kids only have 1 parent who works multiple jobs or better yet doesn't work at all because they are to busy smoking crack and having babies to get a bigger paycheck fro m the government.

      • Fact is is to blame only teachers or unions is just as ignorant as saying that the unions don't have any problems. Reality is that their is problems with a portion, but most definatively not all union workers. Also, not every union is the former UAW. That just a rediculous thought to even believe in. I am proud to be in a nursing union, we fight for patient rights and better staffing to protect YOU when you are sick. We earn less money than most of our private counterparts in exchange for better benefits. Grow up and get some facts before making blanket assumptions based on a failed industry where both the workers and the exucutives failed miserably (automotive)
        The steel industry failed due to their inability to keep up with current technology and being in competition with foreign competiotors who are susidized by their governments.

        • Most other union jobs were lost to technology and slave labor in third world countries combined with the American Philosophy that cheaper is better. Why not let a Chinaman do it for pennies a day as opposed to paying any American 8 to 12 bucks an hour. Unionized or not the math is simple. Bigger bottom lines for companies and no nationalism from supposed American businesses is the real issue.

        • OH,,,nursing union, we ALL see wha the cost of healthcare is doing to our country. I've work in a health care facility and have seen RN's do little of nothing except boss around the nursing techs. In the old days nurses did much more work now they're whining premadonnas. Social programs and "give-aways" will never replace personal responsibilities Jluith, You are just plainly wrong in your thinking obviously the result of our progressive educational system..Look around you Jluith, the world is changing; try to keep up.

  13. I believe he uses the term cliffhanger as who knows what will happen. The 7,000 votes will be questioned, and this will most likely end in the supreme court. Instead of partisan bickering on forums like this, why not have conversations and set an example for the ones we elect, so they can follow our lead.
    We are all Americans, some liberal, some conservative, most people are neither though. All sides need to stop demonizing the opposition. If one side got what they wanted all the time, it seems that is more of a totalitarian dictatorship.

  14. Certainly what happens in Wisconsin will be an indicator of where America stands or how she will fall.
    It is a pity to see the likes of this author who, by my guess is a progressive one who has abandoned journalistic ethics but this too is what the union progressives do; they are a desperate bunch, very dangerous. I feel the tide may turn in Wisconsin and elsewhere. America can ill afford to be bullied into continuing to support both the career politicians and their crony union friends.
    than rights they want a blatantly unfair portion which amounts to entitlements and in exchange they'll do whatever they can to support the Democratic party

    • Unions, corporations, what is the difference? Oh yeah, unions work for people, corporations for profits. I am sure they support the party that shares the same goals.

    • So it's all right to subsidize the OIL companies, the INSURANCE industry, the AGRICULTURAL industry, the WEAPONS industry, the PHARMCEUTICAL industry…..It's cool for CEO"S to pull down 250 to 300 times the average worker…not union worker cause they have stints on "LIFE STYLE OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS" all the time,….It's alright to bail out the BANKING AND WALL STREET good ole boys while they walk away with billions in bonuses because they earned it….. Yeah you really have a balanced understanding of the issues at hand

      • I love how you guys when caught try to shift the subject, this topic is about unions, my "balanced understanding of the issue at hand" Chuck, is to stay on topic. I have my thoughts on the subsidizes you've mentioned, and they are serious subjects. We are discussing unions here please try to stay on topic, if it is too hard for you perhaps you may go to the Disnety website… If you want to respond in a retort , please concentrate and keep up with the topis of unions. Quit blathering,.

  15. Only a liberal democrat writer would call 7,000 plus votes a cliff hanger. Yeah for the home team. Good luck Wisconsin you are leading the country to freedom by taking the labor unions head on. They eventually will run out of money if the congress can reign in Obama giving them another stimulus package.

  16. "Liberal and conservative groups have spent millions…!" It's the UNIONS which have spent the millions, pal. But trying to lump them together makes the outlay of money appear more evenly divided I suppose. And the liberal writer of this piece also fails to mention the fact that there was indeed no "…error in the vote count." The UNOFFICIAL, preliminary count the Waukesha clerk gave to the MEDIA was incorrect. The OFFICIAL count was QUITE CORRECT! But the left–that is, Democrats– will cling to anything in order to charge "evil doing" at the polls. Funny…coming from the professionals of election fraud.

    • If she wae a union member she'd have a job or life guarenteed, be overpaid, and have 85% retirement with full healthcare provided…Perhaps she should join a union? Ever try to fire a teacher?
      She has a job because she works, people make mistakes wether it be a union employee or otherwise.
      Doctors make mistakes, everyone who work make an occassional mistake. I am certain that if she made the mistake in the unions favor you would have no problem then, But no, wait, you seem to support part of the problem rather than a reasonable solution. Bet you drive a foreign car with an America bumper sticker on its bumper; can I call em or what?

  17. Funny how the Dem. have been sand bagging elections in Illinois for years. They would hold back results till they new how many votes were need to defeat the Rep Candidate. Then all of sudden these votes would be counted.
    It looks like the Rep. have finally learned how to do it.

  18. It's disgusting to listen to the ignorant continue to blame workers for the crimes that crashed the American economy. The MOB has been gathered and being lead by those that will turn on them at the end…. I have began to lose hope in all that I learned in Sunday school and grade school. Fair play, decencey, good sportsmanship, blessed are the peace keepers, grace and mercy, forgiveness, kindness, understanding, charity, honesty, liberty and justice for all, though shall not steal, ….wow what's happened to American and Americans…are we a nation of capitalist now…..I think I'll stay American

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