Former Democratic Gov. Patrick Lucey is withdrawing his support for incumbent Justice David Prosser for Wisconsin Supreme Court and is throwing it to Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Lucey released a statement to the media Thursday evening saying the campaign has revealed what he called "a disturbing distemper and lack of civility" in Prosser, though he did not cite specifics.
"I have followed with increasing dismay and now alarm the campaign of Justice David Prosser, whom I endorsed at the outset of his campaign and in whose campaign I serve as the honorary co-chairman," Lucey said in the statement. "I can no longer in good conscience lend my name and support to Justice Prosser's candidacy. Too much has come to light that Justice Prosser has lost that most crucial of characteristics for a Supreme Court Justice -- as for any judge -- even-handed impartiality. Along with that failing has come a disturbing distemper and lack of civility that does not bode well for the High Court in the face of demands that are sure to be placed on it in these times of great political and legal volatility."
At the same time, Lucey said he has continued to be impressed by Kloppenburg, saying she has shown the proper judicial temperament.
"(Kloppenburg) has adhered throughout the campaign to even-handedness and non-partisanship and has exhibited both promising judicial temperament and good grace, even in the heat of a fierce campaign," Lucey said.
Lucey said he has resigned as the honorary co-chairman of Prosser's campaign, and he is endorsing Kloppenburg for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The election is Tuesday.
The campaign between the Prosser and Kloppenburg has been contentious. A public-policy group recently calculated that spending on the race has reached $1.7 million.
A message left at Prosser's campaign was not immediately returned Thursday night.
Lucey served as Wisconsin's 38th governor. In his statement, he noted that he appointed to Wisconsin's Supreme Court "two quite different but equally principled justices" -- Shirley Abrahamson and Roland Day -- and that he has endorsed several more justices over the years.
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