It was about 8:30 last night--with just 1% of the precincts reporting--when I told my broadcast partner Bob Burnell on the air: "Bold prediction: The State Supreme Court race is decided by less than one percentage point and we have a statewide recount." Now here we are ten hours later, and we still can't declare a winner in the State Supreme Court race--and both sides are gearing up for what could be the biggest political circus in the history of Wisconsin.
It was funny to us when the election officials in Florida were holding ballots up to the light in 2000, trying to determine if there were "dimpled chads" or "hanging chads" and we mocked the protestors as they chanted "Count all the votes!!" or "The votes have all been counted!!". We smirked as Minnesota endured the Al Franken recount in 2010--as bags of "uncounted" ballots from "strongly Democratic" areas were suddenly discovered behind voting machines, in poll workers trunks and under people's Christmas trees. And we groaned as Norm Coleman filed lawsuit after lawsuit trying to drag out the inevitable.
Now it will be the rest of the country that will get to point at Wisconsin and laugh. 72-counties doing 72-recounts with 72-teams of lawyers questioning every stray mark on every ballot trying to "discern the intent of the voter". Both sides will try to top each other with stories of voter fraud, "Smokes for Votes" in Milwaukee, "African-Americans were told they had to show ID to vote" in Waukesha, "the Supreme Court race wasn't even on all the ballots" in rural Jefferson County.
All of that will be followed by the endless legal challenges in 72-counties--all of which will end up before the State Supreme Court itself--where a 3-3 tie is all but assured because Justice Prosser will have to recuse himself. And then it's on to the Federal Courts.
Selfishly, I'm looking forward to the circus. Endless fodder for the news grist, endless topics for My Two Cents!! Enjoy the madness, everybody. Hopefully we can get it wrapped up before the recall elections in June.