State News

Despite looming recount by Neubauer, Hagedorn declares victory

The race between Wisconsin Supreme Court election between Judge Lisa Neubauer and Judge Brian Hagedorn was too close to name a winner at the end of Election Day.

Image By: Michael Makowski and Courtesy of Friends of Brian Hagedorn

Judge Brian Hagedorn prevailed over Judge Lisa Neubauer in the close race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, but not by enough votes to push over the 1 percent margin for recount. 

Based on unofficial reports collected by the Wisconsin Election Commission, Hagedorn finished the race ahead of Neubauer by 0.49 percent of the total 1,206,345 ballots received –– over 200,000 more votes than the Supreme Court race in 2018. 

“Even though we had the second-highest turnout in a nonpartisan election since 2000, the Elections Commission received very few complaints about problems at polling places,” Wisconsin’s chief election official Morgan Wolfe said in a press release.

Based on the numbers, Hagedorn announced his win Wednesday, thanking supporters and voters for choosing the candidate that “keeps personal beliefs out of the courtroom.”

“The people of Wisconsin have spoken, and our margin of victory is insurmountable. This was a true grassroots campaign fueled from the bottom up,” Hagedorn said in a press release. “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.”

Pro-Life Wisconsin, an organization that endorsed Hagedorn, congratulated him on the victory. 

“Despite an avalanche of unjust attacks on his personal beliefs, Judge Hagedorn persevered. We also commend the hard work of grassroots pro-lifers around the state,” Mark Sande, director of the Victory Fund PAC, said. “Your effort made a difference.” 

Regardless, Neubauer encouraged her supporters to “stick with” her, and defended her reason to request a recount by calling out Hagedorn’s use of outside funding.

“We have seen near record turnout and a razor-thin margin,” Neubauer said. “We faced an unprecedented deluge of last-minute, outside dark money spending — more than $1 million in the last week alone.”

Since the margin is more than 0.25 percent, Neubauer’s team will have to fund the recount.

Hagedorn led by merely 2,000 votes with more than 90 percent of counties reportedly counted when Neubauer’s team called for a recount around 11 p.m. Tuesday. He pulled ahead of his former District 2 Court of Appeals colleague despite a lack of outside funding and endorsements comparatively. 

"We are almost assuredly headed to a recount. We are going to make sure every vote is counted,” said Tyler Hendriks, Neubauer’s campaign manager. “Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted." 

The nonpartisan yet controversial race received national attention, influencing Wisconsin voters with contentious advertisements and endorsements ranging from Eric Holder and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin to former Gov. Scott Walker and police sheriffs. 

Neubauer’s ballots were supported by increased voter turnout, compared to the 2018 Supreme Court election, of 20,000 votes in liberal Dane and Milwaukee counties where she secured about 80 and 65 percent of votes respectively. 

As former Gov. Scott Walker’s legal council, Hagedorn received widespread Republican support across the state. 

Counties have until April 12 to complete and report their official canvasses to the Wisconsin Elections Committee, after which Neubauer will have three days to officially request a recount.

This story has been updated as of 7:20pm Wednesday

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