MADISON — Judge Brian Hagedorn declared victory in the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, April 3.
"We made history. We made history in a significant way -- and our margin of victory looks to be insurmountable," Hagedorn told reporters gathered in Pewaukee. "I am deeply committed to everything that I've said throughout this campaign -- of treating everyone with dignity and respect under the law."
Hagedorn squared off against Judge Lisa Neubauer in this race. As of Wednesday morning, Hagedorn led Neubauer by fewer than 6,000 votes out of 1.2 million cast, based on unofficial results. That is a difference of about 0.49 percentage points -- close enough for Neubauer to request a recount.
Hagedorn declared victory prior to his public appearance early Wednesday morning.
Minutes after Hagedorn declared victory, the Neubauer campaign sent out a fundraising plea, saying, "With the vote total neck and neck, it looks like we're heading into a potential recount." Her campaign adviser Scott Spector said Wednesday morning that Hagedorn's declaration of victory did not change their position that a recount was likely.
"We need to make sure that every last vote is counted, and that's going to take a little time," Neubauer said.
Counties have until April 12 to canvass and report their results. Neubauer then has three days after the final count to request a recount, but she would have to pay for it.
Hagedorn said a recount wouldn't make a lot of sense, but said his campaign is ready for one.
"Absolutely. We will be prepared financially. We will be prepared legally to do that. We are already be making all the preparations for that. I'm hoping that won't be necessary," Hagedorn said.
Neubauer didn't use the word "recount" in her message to supporters, only urging them to go to her website and volunteer and support her efforts.
Statement of Judge Lisa Neubauer's campaign:
"Friends, this is Judge Lisa Neubauer. I’m so very thankful for all your hard work on this campaign. Thanks to all of you, we reached hundreds of thousands of our neighbors with our message of needing fair, impartial, and independent courts.
We have seen near record turnout and a razor-thin margin. We faced an unprecedented deluge of last-minute, outside dark money spending -- more than $1 million in the last week alone. And so now, the morning after the election, this race is still too close to call. We need to make sure that every last vote is counted, and that’s going to take a little time.
And we are going to need your help, so please go to my website, at judgeneubauer.com, and sign up to volunteer and support our effort. Again, I’m so appreciative of your support, your hard work and your commitment to this campaign. Together, we will make Wisconsin stronger. Stick with me! Thanks."
The last time there was a recount in a Wisconsin Supreme Court race was in 2011.
The last statewide recount was for the presidential race in 2016. That cost local election clerks $2 million, which is more than the $1.7 million Neubauer raised during the entire Supreme Court campaign. However, those costs included overtime for clerks who had to count nearly 2.9 million votes, more than double the 1.2 million cast in this year's Supreme Court race.
The winner of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race will serve a 10-year term and replace retiring liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is 85.