Wisconsin Supreme Court race likely heading toward recount

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court race to replace a retiring liberal judge appeared to be heading for a recount Tuesday, with the outcome largely seen as a measure of the battleground state’s mood ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

With the unofficial vote tally at 99 percent, only 1,600 votes out of nearly 1.2 million votes cast separated conservative candidate Brian Hagedorn, the leader, from liberal-backed challenger Lisa Neubauer.

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The Associated Press did not declare a winner, noting that the race was within the 1 percentage point margin for a recount. If the margin remains within the 1 percentage point difference, the trailing candidate would be allowed to request a recount paid for by taxpayers.

"This race is too close to call," Neubauer campaign manager Tyler Hendricks said in a statement obtained by FOX6 Milwaukee. "We are almost assuredly headed to a recount. We are going to make sure every vote is counted. Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted."

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The court is currently controlled 4-3 by conservatives, who have held the majority since 2008. If Hagedorn wins, the scales would tip in favor of conservatives 5-2, ensuring majority control for years to come. Liberals were hoping for a Neubauer win to give them a shot at taking majority control in 2020.

The outcome will also test the climate of the imminent 2020 election cycle, with Wisconsin seen as a critical battleground for presidential hopefuls. In 2016, Donald Trump won Wisconsin with 47.8 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 47 percent.

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Both Neubauer, 61, and Hagedorn, 41, are appeals court judges.

The winner will serve a 10-year term and replace retiring liberal Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who is 85.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.