For those not keeping track, the Governor of Wisconsin signed a bill into law that curtailed public unions' collective bargaining rights, and required union members to pay something towards their benefits. Unions went bananas; Democratic apparatchiks bussed in stimulus-funded "community organizers" (professional agitators) to protest and intimidate politicians and local businessmen; a liberal judge enjoined application of the law on flimsy technical grounds having to do with Democratic legislators who scurried from the State and ensconced themselves in an Illinois hotel in order to prevent passage of the law; and an unlucky conservative judge came up for re-election.
Mr. Prosser was appointed to the bench in 1998 by GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson, and won a 10-year term in an uncontested election in 2000. He won the Feb. 15 primary with 55% of the vote and seemed poised for easy re-election. Ms. Kloppenburg, who was little known before the election, came in second among four candidates with 25%. The runoff election started to become politicized after Mr. Walker floated his union bill around the same time as the primary. After 14 Democratic state senators fled to Illinois to deny the Republicans the quorum they needed to pass the bill, thousands of protesters flooded Madison to demonstrate, beginning a prolonged period of union mobilization.
The WSJ's editorialists note the importance of this contest, especially to Big Labor, which pulled out all the stops to put a reliable liberal in Prosser's place on the Supreme Court. That would ensure the law will be struck down by a 5-4 vote for being "unconstitutional" when it comes before that Court. That's the way law works in the US, at least for liberals. (That is a topic for another post.)
Union efforts were aided by an unfortunate Wisconsin law that lets voters register immediately before casting a ballot. A similar Minnesota law helped Democrat Al Franken narrowly win a Senate seat in 2008. Because identification requirements are scant, the law creates different standards at different polling places and is an invitation to fraud. These problems were apparent long before Tuesday. In 2008, a 67-page Milwaukee Police Department Report chronicled potential fraud in the state's tally of voters in the 2004 Presidential election. Questionable voting by absentee ballot, voting by felons and disparities between votes cast and those counted were part of "an illegal organized attempt to influence the outcome of the election," the report noted. Mr. Walker and the GOP legislature blundered by not repealing same-day registration as an early priority.
Republicans are apparently now to be faulted for not cutting off Democrat's avenues to cheat. Blunders notwithstanding, a recount was rendered considerably less probable given the discovery of a counting error that added a net 7,500 votes to Justice Prosser's tally. One county had neglected to factor roughly 14,000 votes into its results (a far cry from the bags of "discovered votes" in the trunk of a Democratic activist's car in Minnesota that propelled comedian Al Franken into the U.S. Senate, and gave Democrats the crucial 60th vote they needed to ram through the Obama agenda). Regardless, this is a development sure to elicit howls from Democrats who know cheating when they see it, given their intimate familiarity with the practice.
Noman's guess is that the election results will be challenged, a huge stink will ensue into which President Obama will insinuate his golden oratory along with a conclusory remark to the effect that Republicans are willing to stoop to any level to achieve victory (a statement only true of Democrats), and Justice Prosser will be seated on the bench when the objectionable law (to unions, liberals, Democrats--or, is Noman being redundant?) comes before it.
This is an awful lot of drama just to restore sanity to the budgeting process. Perhaps unions might awaken one day, reconciled to the facts of political and economic life, and decide to work with the Republicans to fashion a compromise that taxpayers are not abused by, and can live with.