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Sunday, December 28, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 18.0° F  A Few Clouds
The Daily
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Ed Fallone conquers Dane County, but state goes to Pat Roggensack in Wisconsin Supreme Court primary
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Ed Fallone and Pat Roggensack
Ed Fallone and Pat Roggensack

Dane County came through for Supreme Court challenger Ed Fallone, but he still has a long way to go if he wants to turn Justice Pat Roggensack out of office.

According to unofficial results from the Dane County Clerk's Office, Fallone garnered 59% of the vote in Dane County to Roggensack's 33.5%. Lemon law attorney Vince Megna came in third with 6.9%.

But statewide, Roggensack pulled in twice as many votes as Fallone -- 64% to his 29%. Megna took 6% of the vote.

In televised remarks from her election night party from Veranda restaurant in Fitchburg, Roggensack, who has served more than 16 years on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, acknowledged her commanding lead. "We are looking forward to building on the strength that we obviously have so far," she said.

Fallone, a professor at Marquette University Law School, said in a statement that if elected he would "stand up to the special interests and ensure that working families have equal access to the court."

He indicated he intends to keep campaigning on the "dysfunction" and "infighting" on the court, noting last week's revelations in documents released by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that security arrangements had been put in place to protect her and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson from other justices.

Roggensack and her campaign have downplayed problems on the court.

Joe Heim, political science professor at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, says he does not expect this race to generate the kind of heat or interest that followed the contest pitting Justice David Prosser against challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. The general election for that race coincided with the effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker. "I think those fires have ebbed," Heim says.

Heim says much depends on whether Democratic groups jump in and start spending money on behalf of Fallone and Republican groups do the same for Roggensack. Supreme Court races are officially nonpartisan, though as Megna repeatedly pointed out during his campaign, Democrats routinely back the perceived progressive candidates and Republicans support the perceived conservatives, who now form a majority on the bench. So far Roggensack has raised more than twice as much as Fallone.

"People put their money on the odds they can win," says Heim. If the odds are 5 to 1 a candidate might win, people might sit it out. But if the odds improve to 2 to 1, they might get involved.

"It's like horse racing," says Heim. "People will put their money where they think it will have an impact."

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