6:59pm

Wed April 6, 2011
It's All Politics

Democrat In Wisconsin Supreme Court Race Claims Victory

A 204 vote lead may not be much when nearly 1.5 million people cast votes.

But it was enough for the Democratic candidate in a nationally watched contest for a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat to declare victory after all precincts were finally counted Wednesday.

JoAnne Kloppenberg, an assistant attorney, claimed victory in her race against Republican incumbent Justice David Prosser that was partly seen as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker.

The state's Republican chief executive is a villain to some and a hero to others for reining in the bargaining power of public-employee unions.

The earliest opponents could legally mount a recall campaign of Walker would be next year. So the supreme court race was seen by opponents to send a message sooner.

If Kloppenberg's lead is made official, she would shift the ideological balance of Wisconsin's seven-member high court back towards the liberal end of the ideological spectrum the court occupied before a Republican ousted a Democrat in 2008.

That's important because Walker's legislation limiting the bargaining rights of public-employee unions is thought to be headed to the state's supreme court.

Kloppenberg's day that started with her trailing Prosser by 835 votes with 99 percent of the state's precincts counted and being too close for the Associated Press to call the race. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.