The likelihood that the case will inch forward through the state’s court system brought a significant amount of money to the state court race. Republicans favor Judge Prosser, a conservative, while Democrats favor Ms. Kloppenburg.
Spending on the race illustrated just how much the collective-bargaining bill mattered to special interest groups outside the state. Eighty percent of the $5.4 million spent in the race came from special interest groups, the second highest spending total in the state’s history for any race in Wisconsin, according to data compiled from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a nonprofit advocacy group located in Madison. Prosser received $2.6 million and Kloppenburg $1.8 million.
Despite the influx of money, the election night outcome was tight. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board reports that Prosser led Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes, less than 0.5 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast in the race.
Compounding questions over the narrow margin was the revelation during vote counting that Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus had failed to report 14,315 votes. When they were counted, that pushed the election in Prosser’s favor. Ms. Nickolaus’s explanation that “human error” caused the mistaken delay in reporting the votes received the support of the Government Accountability Board. She remains under scrutiny by liberal groups, however, because of a resume that shows she once worked for as a data analyst and computer specialist for the state’s Republican caucus for 13 years, a time window that included Prosser’s brief tenure as Assembly speaker in 1995 and 1996.