A conservative justice has weathered attempts to link him to Wisconsin's governor and a divisive union rights law and won re-election, according to county vote totals finalized Friday.
Tallies from each of the state's 72 counties show Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes. State election officials said they will wait to declare an official winner until the deadline for Kloppenburg to seek a recount passes. She has until Wednesday to call for one.
Kloppenburg faced an uphill fight against Prosser, a 12-year court veteran and former Republican Assembly speaker. But she got a boost in the weeks leading up to the election as her supporters worked to turn anger against Gov. Scott Walker and the union rights law against Prosser.
The law, which Walker wrote, strips most public sector workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. It also requires them to contribute more to their health care and pensions, changes that will result in an average 8 percent pay cut.
Tens of thousands of people converged on the state Capitol for weeks to protest and minority Democrats in the Senate fled the state in a futile attempt to block a vote in that chamber. The law is currently tied up in the courts and hasn't taken effect. Those legal challenges look destined for the state Supreme Court.
The law's opponents hoped a Kloppenburg upset over Prosser would tilt the court to the left and set the stage for the justices to overturn the measure.
"We did win, and we're confident the margin will hold."