The Late Returns From Waukesha County Save Justice Prosser’s Seat
Justice David Prosser’s bid for retention on the Wisconsin Supreme Court was dead Wednesday. A 204 vote victory, out of one and a half million cast, seemed to change the political future of Wisconsin. The conservative lost to a liberal, Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg; the composition of the Wisconsin Supreme changed from 4:3 conservative to 4:3 liberal. Governor Scott walker’s union busting bill was judicially dead. The unions sent a message; don’t mess with them.
The unions did their thing. They funded Kloppenburg’s campaign. They got the vote out – a 50% turnout in Madison and Milwaukee. They were on a roll.
The trial lawyers were also celebrating.
Justice Prosser would have demanded a recount, and the election lawyers would have racked up thousands of billable hours. History tells us the Secretary of State (Katherine Harris in Florida and Mark Ritchie in the 2008 Minnesota Senate race) play a critical role in recounts. It is not easy to win a recount when the Secretary of State is of the other party.
The Republican incumbent Senator, Norm Coleman, was ahead by over 700 votes on election night and certified as the winner by 215 votes in the Minnesota race. Then came the recount, supervised by the Democratic Secretary of State Ritchie, and suddenly Senator Coleman lost by 312 votes to a tax-dodging comedian, Al Franken.
Justice Prosser would have had a nearly impossible task to overcome the 204 vote deficit. A circuit judge would supervise the recount, with the judge being appointed by the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Honorable Ruth Abrahamson.
The Chief Justice and Judge Prosser do not like each other. He once called her a “total bitch.” Chief Justice Abrahamson has never felt bound by legal precedence in judicially legislating.
But suddenly, the late returns from Waukesha County, just like the fabled “late returns from Chicago” changed everything. The Waukesha County Clerk, Kathy Nickolaus, said 14,000 ballots had been counted, but not reported due to human error. Assuming no voter fraud or other misconduct, Justice Prosser is ahead by 7,500 ballots, probably an insurmountable lead.
The voter surge is being questioned -more billable hours for the lawyers.
The unions have to fight this battle to the end. A win for them provides great momentum in their next fight to recall 8 Republican Senators in the state. The following step would be to recall Governor Walker while the Wisconsin judiciary strikes down the law.
For now, they have to demonize Kathy Nicholas as a long term incompetent, political operative. The problem for them is that every one of her actions was overseen by a Democrat. In addition, Waukesha County is heavily Republican. It often votes 2-1 for Republican presidential candidates. A heavy turnout in Waukesha County reflected the conservative voters’ reaction against the demonstrations and unruly conduct by the unions in Madison. Turnout works both ways.
Vice President Richard Nixon believed he lost the 1960 Presidential Election to Senator John F. Kennedy because of voter fraud by Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson in Texas and Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago. The late returns from Chicago and the Hill Country were highly suspect.
The 14 Democratic Senators who fled to Illinois forgot to bring the late Democratic returns from Chicago with them.
The 214 votes or the 7,500 votes decide the political future of Wisconsin.
One final twist is that if the recounts and legal battles ensue, then the case will ultimately go to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Justice Prosser would have to recuse himself. The Court would then be split 3:3. Who knows what would then happen?