While there was no explicit mention of a Dane County judge's decision to issue an emergency order to block the state's contentious new collective bargaining law, Prosser acknowledged the attacks against him on Klopperburg's Facebook page were from people hoping to elect someone to decide "cases that come out of the governor's budget bill."...I have a very free comments policy myself, and this blog's comments thread is full of things I don't agree with, so I'm strongly disinclined to attribute comments to someone who maintains a comments section. Now, a political candidate might want to clean up the comments, but if she doesn't, what does it mean? It might mean nothing more than a failure to monitor the page — mere inattention or sloppiness. It might mean a commitment to free speech. But one might infer that a candidate would scrub comments that were damaging to her in the election and, perhaps, keep what was helpful.
Prosser said Kloppenburg is responsible for the comments on her Facebook page and should take them down. He said the nature of the comments raises questions about whether she can impartially decide any cases that come before her with the budget bill. He mentioned one that read, "Stop the turd, vote Kloppenburg."
"Now am I the turd or is the governor the turd?" he said to laughs from the audience. "Either I am being sort of dissed or she is committing herself to vote in a particular way on a particular case. That's totally inappropriate."
Kloppenburg said the people who post the comments are responsible for the content and that the postings aren't untrue.
"They understand that it is so important to have an independent and impartial court," she said of the people posting on her Facebook site.
The key question is whether Kloppenburg has "committ[ed] herself to vote in a particular way on a particular case." Clearly, many of her supporters are saying that she is much more likely than Prosser to give them the outcomes they want, and some of them have said that where she has the power to delete. But Prosser's campaign manager wrote in an official campaign news release that Prosser would "act as a common sense compliment to both the new administration and legislature." Now, that's not exactly a "commit[ment]... to vote in a particular way on a particular case," but it's a signal to people on the conservative side that Prosser to is more likely to give them the outcomes they want. Prosser has "disavowed the release and said he didn't see it before it went out," but what's worse? The Prosser campaign statement or the Kloppenburg Facebook comments?
The answer to that question isn't going to determine who votes for which candidate. Obviously. It's a shame if the judicial campaign has turned into a referendum on the Governor and the GOP legislature, but both candidates bear some responsibility for that. Normally, judicial candidates in this state try quite hard to look as though the race is all about judicial skill and temperament. I think Wisconsinites want that message, and, also, that they are more likely to conflate conservative politics with properly judicial skill and temperament. (That's how Gableman defeated Butler, in my view.)
But at this point in the Wisconsin craziness, some unknown large number of Wisconsinites — especially those who will take the trouble to vote on April 5th — see the election as a way to express an opinion about what the Republicans have been doing in Wisconsin. Presumably, there are some more who have opinions about the extent to which a court should check the legislative process — a more conventional view about judging. I think there are also plenty of Wisconsinites who have a general preference for conservative judges. (They worry that liberal judges will be too sympathetic to criminals and that sort of thing.) Lots of people just vote for the incumbent because they figure he's a solid guy who knows what he's doing.
Who will turn out on April 5th? My sense is that the people who have been protesting for the last month have a lot of pent-up energy to expend on getting their people to the polls, and they are saying vote Kloppenburg.