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MADISON, Wis. | A conservative state Supreme Court justice overcame efforts to tie him to Wisconsin’s polarizing governor and survived a near-upset in a race that drew national attention after a fierce fight over union rights.

County tallies finalized Friday show Justice David Prosser defeated little-known challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes. State election officials said they will wait to declare an official winner until the deadline for Mrs. Kloppenburg to seek a recount passes. She has until Wednesday to call for one.

Although the race was officially nonpartisan, Democrats tried to link Justice Prosser, a 12-year court veteran and former speaker of the state Assembly, to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and a divisive new law stripping public employees of most of their union rights. Anger over the law gave Mrs. Kloppenburg’s campaign a boost in the weeks leading up to the election, but it wasn’t enough to put her over the top.

Justice Prosser’s campaign issued a statement Friday declaring victory.

“Today, the will of the electorate is clear with … Justice David Prosser re-elected,” the statement said.

Mrs. Kloppenburg issued a statement that said only that her campaign would weigh a recount request, and that she would make an announcement no later than Wednesday. If she requests a recount, the state will pay for it because the margin between the candidates is less than half of a percent of the total 1,497,330 votes cast.


IMF gets tough with U.S. inaction on deficit

The International Monetary Fund finally seems to be baring teeth sharp enough to bite its biggest shareholder — the United States.

The question is how Washington will respond.

In the barrage of reports prepared for finance ministers who met this weekend, the IMF questioned whether the United States would meet a pledge to halve its budget deficit by 2013, eliciting a swift response from the Treasury Department which insisted the promise would be kept.

The IMF also took the Obama administration to task over its housing policy and said the United States ought to count its commitments to housing finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on its already swollen balance sheet.

“The IMF suddenly is doing its best to seem even-handed,” said Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and a former IMF official.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner — a former IMF official himself — said Saturday that Washington welcomed “continued IMF surveillance of our fiscal and monetary policies.”