Gov Evers

Gov. Tony Evers 

President Donald Trump Friday congratulated conservative-backed candidate Brian Hagedorn for victory over the liberal-backed Lisa Neubauer in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race even as the race remained too close to call.

“Congratulations to Brian Hagedorn on his big surprise win over a well funded Liberal Democrat in the Great State of Wisconsin for a very important Supreme Court seat,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Republicans are producing big for Wisconsin!”

Earlier in the day, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers declined to say whether Neubauer should concede the race after preliminary election results showed her trailing by about 6,000 votes, or 0.5% of the votes cast. The Associated Press has not declared a winner.

“That is up to her,” Evers said, referring to Neubauer possibly conceding. “(Hagedorn)’s obviously leading at this point in time and I know he declared being a winner but at the end of the day we’re going to have to make sure all the votes are counted.”

It’s the closest Supreme Court race since the contest between the conservative-backed, and now retired, Justice David Prosser and JoAnne Kloppenburg in 2011, when a recount was conducted.

Kloppenburg held a 200-vote lead on election night based on preliminary results tabulated by The Associated Press. But after Waukesha County announced it had failed to include votes from the city of Brookfield, Prosser ended up with a more than 7,000-vote advantage in the official statewide canvass. The recount cost more than $500,000.

Despite the thin margin, Hagedorn at Waukesha’s Ingleside Hotel declared victory Wednesday, arguing that his lead over Neubauer was “insurmountable.”

Wisconsin counties are required to canvass and submit official election results to the Wisconsin Elections Commission by April 12. Neubauer has three business days after the last county canvass is completed to request a recount.

The night of the election Neubauer’s campaign manager, Tyler Hendricks, in a statement said the race was too close to call and that that the campaign was “almost assuredly headed to a recount.”

In recent days, the Neubauer campaign has solicited donations for the recount effort but has not yet requested one.

The 1.2 million votes cast in the race represent about a 26.6% turnout, which is higher than average for a state Supreme Court race.

Evers, however, told reporters he’s disappointed in that rate of voter participation.

“Clearly, these are important races and first of all we need to have people in Wisconsin of all stripes turn out to vote,” he said. “And 26% statewide is not anywhere near enough for people to feel good about our turnout. That’s where everybody should focus their efforts around.”

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Capitol reporter

Riley Vetterkind covers politics and state government for the Wisconsin State Journal. He can be reached at (608) 252-6135 or

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