The battle for Wisconsin Supreme Court is not over. As of Wednesday morning, conservative-backed Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn led with 50.24 percent of the vote, while liberal-backed Wisconsin Chief Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer stood at 49.75 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
With such a narrow margin, both campaigns are bracing for a recount. Wisconsin law allows for recounts if the race is within 1 point. If it is within 0.25 points, taxpayers pay for the recount. If it is above that amount but lower than 1 point, the losing candidate must pay for the recount.
The winner will replace liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson. Conservatives now control the court 4-3. That would expand to 5-2 if Hagedorn is declared the winner and remain at 4-3 if Neubauer manages to overcome her deficit when the vote count is finalized.
The race leading up to election day was contentious at best. Hagedorn had been slammed by his opponent and liberal media for his involvement in a Christian school that requires its students and staff to uphold Biblical standards, abstaining from “immoral sexual activity” which is defined in its code of conduct as anything “apart from the context of marriage between one man and one woman.” Hagedorn also faced backlash for his pro-life stance and belief in the sanctity of human life.
Neubauer, who was backed by many liberal groups, including Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin and a national group run by Eric Holder (the first attorney general under President Barack Obama), was predicted to win the race by a landslide.
This election, the only statewide election of the year, has been viewed as a barometer of voter moods heading into the 2020 presidential year. Turnout was strong at about 26 percent, beating the 2018 Supreme Court turnout of 22 percent, and the tight outcome provides more evidence of how evenly divided Wisconsin is.
Header Image: Courtesy of Brian Hagedorn