March 15, 2011- Gov. Scott Walker scored the biggest victory of his political career last week when he signed his contentious collective bargaining bill into law. Now his opponents are itching for payback, and it appears they're going to start taking out their frustrations on conservative state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser.
Prosser's re-election bid against challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg had been chugging along in the background for nearly a month as massive protests at the state Capitol consumed the media. The protests, in fact, began in earnest the night Prosser and Kloppenburg emerged from a four-way court primary.
Walker, a Republican, signed the bill into law on Friday, but it was unclear whether that will spell the end of the demonstrations. One thing is certain — the long-range political fallout is just beginning. Walker's opponents have vowed to recall Republican state senators who supported the bill, and his supporters are seeking to recall Democratic senators who fled the state to block a vote.
It will take thousands of signatures to trigger any recall election, but the April 5 Supreme Court election is just three weeks away, thrusting the conservative-leaning Prosser squarely into the sights of angry Democrats and union supporters.
The race is officially nonpartisan, but defeating an incumbent conservative justice would send a "shockwave" through the Republican Party, said Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. Palmer noted in an e-mail to The Associated Press the WPPA hasn't endorsed a candidate yet, but said the labor debate will play a huge role in the election.
"Over the last month, (Kloppenburg's) campaign seems to have risen from relative obscurity and it's now really going to be a race to watch."