Despite a vicious smear campaign attacking him for living his Christian faith, Judge Brian Hagedorn appears to have defeated Judge Lisa Neubauer in the race for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an extremely close election many are still saying is “too close to call.”
Unofficially, Hagedorn received 598,510 votes, or 50.2 percent of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ, with 99 percent of the votes in. Neubauer received 593,715 votes, or 49.8 percent.
“The people of Wisconsin have spoken, and our margin of victory is insurmountable,” Hagedorn said in a statement released Wednesday morning. “I thank my wife, Christina, my children, and my family and friends for their unwavering support throughout all the ups and downs in this campaign. And I thank everyone who supported us along the way. This was a true grassroots campaign fueled from the bottom up. Whether you volunteered your time, donated your hard-earned money or cast your ballot, we could not have done this without you.”
“I am deeply humbled and honored by the voters who have placed their trust in me to serve as Wisconsin’s next Supreme Court justice,” Hagedorn added. “The voters chose to have a Court that keeps personal political beliefs out of the courtroom and applies the law as written.”
The Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) also declared victory Wednesday.
“Judge Hagedorn’s victory was not only a victory for clean government and the rule of law, but is sure to send shockwaves across the political spectrum. Wisconsin voters responded to grassroots mobilization, and stood up to the liberal special interests and Eric Holder who tried to buy this election,” said Mark Jefferson, Executive Director of the RPW. “Our congratulations go out to the Hagedorn family, who stood strong for their Christian beliefs in the face of relentless attacks on their faith and ran an aggressive campaign that sparked voter enthusiasm not seen since the Supreme Court race that took place during the recall fights of 2011.”
Neubauer’s hopes for a last-minute rescue by absentee ballots in Milwaukee were dashed early when Mary Spicuzza reported for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the 9,167 absentee ballots would be counted right away and included in the results announced after the polls closed.
Rather than wait for the results to come in, Neubauer’s campaign told supporters Tuesday night to not wait up. a tactic in anticipation of a recount by saying the election is too close to call.
For a recount, the loser’s vote total must be within one percent of the winner’s vote total to request a recount. The loser must pay for the recount unless the margin is within 0.25 percent. Democrats will have until the end of the third business day after the official canvass is completed to request the recount.
Given past margins of victory that have held up after a recount, Neubauer is unlikely to overcome a margin of 4795 votes. In 2011, the recount in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race only resulted in a swing of 300 votes or 0.02 percent of the total vote changed. After the 2016 election recount, President Donald Trump increased his margin of victory over Hillary Clinton by just 131 votes out of 2,787,820 total votes cast, or 0.005 percent of the total votes cast.
Scott Bauer of the Associated Press reports voter turnout in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race will be around 26 percent. The turnout this year beats the 22.3 percent turnout in last year’s Supreme Court election. It would be the highest voter turnout for a Supreme Court election since 2011 when it was 34.3 percent when Justice David Prosser narrowly defeated JoAnne Kloppenburg. That race went to a recount after the city of Brookfield’s vote totals were not initially included in the Waukesha County total and the error was discovered during the official canvass.