Update: Prosser has widened his lead to 835 votes. Still way too early to know which way it will go. Follow the race here.
Justice David Prosser clung to a narrow lead over Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the state Supreme Court race early Wednesday, after a hard-fought campaign dominated by political forces and outside interest groups.
But even with 99% of the vote counted, fewer than 600 votes – about 0.04% of ballots – separated the candidates. And The Associated Press said early Wednesday that the race was too close to call and that it would take hours or most of the day to get a final tally.
That close margin had political insiders from both sides talking about the possibility of a recount, which Wisconsin has avoided in statewide races in recent decades. Any recount could be followed by lawsuits – litigation that potentially would be decided by the high court.
Prosser is in the lead by a mere 585 votes with 99% in.
Campaign managers on both sides were cautious in their statements as the lead seesawed back and forth between the candidates throughout the night.
At 1:12 a.m., Kloppenburg came out to meet a cheering crowd at the Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison.
“It’s not over and we are still hopeful,” she said. “Let’s get a good night’s sleep and see what tomorrow brings.”
At the Seven Seas Restaurant in Hartland, Prosser told a handful of supporters at 1:40 a.m., “There is little doubt there is going to be a recount in this race.”
“I had a rip-roaring victory speech prepared,” Prosser said. “I also had a concession speech.” What he did not have was a speech for an impasse.
Either candidate can request a recount once the votes have been officially canvassed. If the margin between the candidates is less than 0.5% – as it is likely to be in this race – the state charges nothing to conduct the recount. If the margin is between 0.5% and 2%, the candidate asking for the recount must pay $5 per ward.
Because of the closeness of the race, a Milwaukee election commissioner has asked police to guard ballots overnight. Robert Spindell, who sits on the city’s Election Commission and is active in Republican politics, wrote in an email that he had made the request “until such time that a more formal procedure can be set in place.”
Recount guidelines here.Tweet