In a conference call organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Wisconsin Democratic Senators Mark Miller and Chris Larson were nearly ready to congratulate JoAnne Kloppenburg on winning a seat on the state Supreme Court.
"This is a very significant victory," said Miller, "regardless of the outcome."
As they spoke, Kloppenburg led the vote count with a few precincts still left to tally. That freed up Larson and Miller to speculate about what would happen if she won.
"If Kloppenburg does come out on top," said Larson, "you're going to see a shift in tone from the Republican. Right now they're almost cocky that they're going to be victorious in the courts. I think they've been acting like cowboys because they have know they have a conservative majority if Prosser wins. Yesterday, though, you saw a very nervous [Senate GOP leader] Fitzgerald float the idea of putting the budget repair bill back in the budget and passing it again."
A common misconception about this election has been that a Kloppenburg win would reset the clock on the budget repair bill, because Democrats have successfully -- so far -- tied it up in court. Miller poured some cold water on that theory.
"Regardless of the outcome, the swearing in isn't till August 1," he said. "It's not likely that decisions coming to the Court regarding the budget repair bill will come after that." He was more optimistic about the influence Kloppenburg would have on future cases, and the possibility of a court without Prosser, who'd been a Republican legislator before joining the court.
Miller made one more point. According to his math, Kloppenburg won by a 60-40 margin in the district of Dan Kapanke, the first Republican that recall petitions were submitted against.
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