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Sen. Ron Johnson on the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) spoke at the Heritage Foundation's weekly The Bloggers Briefing today on federal spending, the budget and political matters. Johnson was elected in the strong Republican showing in the 2010 Wisconsin elections that brought Scott Walker into the governorship and gave the GOP control of both the state Senate and Assembly.

In response to a question, Sen. Johnson described Tuesday's Supreme Court race between the incumbent Justice David Prosser, a conservative and former Republican legislator, and the union-backed Joanne Kloppenburg as an extension of the 2010 elections:

So if you really take a look at the detailed results of that election, I’m actually pretty buoyed by it. I was pretty depressed. I came in here, I think it was Wednesday morning, and he was up by a couple of votes, and I attended a hearing and come back, and he’s down by 224. And that was depressing. The signal that that would have sent, the amount of energy that would have provided to public sector unions, the bosses, and just to the Left in general, I think would have been terrible for the nation, truthfully.

The reason we won in 2010 was our base was incredibly energized and the Left was not so. I think what you’re going to see in 2012 is very similar to this Prosser race, where all the reports I heard is that our race was every bit as energized as they were in the 2010 election, but this time they were fighting against a very energized base on the left, and we won. It was a squeaker, but we won and early polling results that I had seen didn’t indicate that we were going to win.

From my standpoint that was a huge victory, and it has far greater implications for the state of Wisconsin, or beyond Wisconsin.  It would have been awful for Wisconsin, by the way. That was, our court was hanging in the balance. Just like the U.S. Supreme Court is, one vote decides.

And we would have lost that one conservative justice to an incredibly activist court. So again, this is great for Wisconsin, great for the nation.

County clerks are finishing up the canvassing of the votes, with Milwaukee County votes expected Wednesday. Justice Prosser retains a 7,300 vote edge, and Democrats are now calling for the resignation of the Waukesha County Clerk who failed to report 14,000 votes from conservative Brookfield that gave Prosser the advantage until two days after the election and after Kloppenburg had (audaciously) declared victory. Clerk Kathy Nickolaus did indeed make a huge mistake, worthy of resignation.

But worthy of federal investigation? U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has written Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation of the late vote reporting, implying -- without evidence -- some sort of election crime. Baldwin's letter is here. According to this TV report, Justice Prosser called the idea of a federal investigation "preposterous."

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.