In a normal year, Prosser, a judicial conservative, might not have faced much of a challenge for re-election. But Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to curtail collective bargaining for most public employees bled over into the judicial campaign. While the race was nominally nonpartisan, conservatives tended to support Prosser; liberals tended to support Kloppenburg. A vote against Prosser became, unfairly in our view, a vote by proxy against Walker.
If this is the case, then Gov. Scott Walker lost. Kloppenburg's supporters were outspent by 38% and in a four-way primary, the incumbent took 55% of the vote to Kloppenburg's 25% second place. It was one helluva gap and JoAnne Kloppenburg closed it to less than one half of one percent. If this was a pro- and anti-Walker election, it's not hard to see which side has the momentum. Had the primary results been even fractionally tighter, Kloppenburg would've won in a walk.
And there are still recall elections in the works. So far, the recall count is six Republicans, zero Democrats. While the pro-Democrat side relied on volunteers to get the job done, the pro-Republican folks decided to go with professional petitioners. This hurt them, as professional canvassers -- being held to a quota -- have reason to engage in fraud. Which, of course, they did. Presumably, the reason that no recall against Democrats has been certified yet is that signatures on GOP petitions are questionable.
Score one for the supremacy of the private sector, huh?
"We believe that when the facts are reviewed, the GAB will throw out thousands of flawed signatures because they were fraudulent or defective," said Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller in a statement. "The vast depth of this misconduct calls into question the legitimacy of every signature collected by these circulators, and shows that the GOP effort failed to gather the valid signatures needed for recall elections."
For their part, Republicans are doing what Republicans have come to do best -- whine and play the victim card. The head of the Government Accountability Board, a non-partisan agency that oversees Wisconsin elections, is biased toward Democrats, they claim -- despite the fact that he just certified a close race for Prosser, despite arguably having enough evidence to keep an investigation going. And they want his head. There are calls for the GAB's Kevin Kennedy to resign.
"It is a big concern that the recall elections for the Democratic senators could be held after July 12," says Orville Seymer, director of field operations for the Milwaukee-based Citizens Responsible for Government -- a pro-GOP group. "It all goes back to momentum."
That it does. Democrats have it, Republicans don't. And that's not likely to change any time soon.