Wisconsin Governor Survives Recall Vote

Posted June 6th, 2012 at 4:00 am (UTC-5)
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Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has defeated his Democratic opponent in a recall challenge that observers say has implications for the November presidential election.

With nearly all the votes counted, Walker was easily beating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by nearly a double digit margin in Tuesday's recall election, which attracted huge voter turnout. Barrett, who lost the 2010 governor's race to Walker, conceded hours after the polls closed.

Shortly after taking office in January 2011, Walker pushed through a law that sharply curtailed the right of most government employees to bargain for pay raises and other benefits, angering unions and Democratic activists. The law set off days of angry protests at the State Capitol in Madison. A grassroots campaign earlier this year gathered nearly 1 million signatures in a petition drive to force the recall election.

In his victory speech, Walker told his supporters the voters of Wisconsin approved of his leadership.

“What has made the United States of America arguably one of the greatest countries in the history of the world, is that in times of crisis, be they economic or fiscal, be they military or spiritual, in times of crisis, what has made America amazing, has been the fact that throughout our history, throughout the more than 200 years of our history, there have been men and women of courage who stood up and decided it was more important to look at the future of their children and their grandchildren than their own political futures.”

Walker is the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. Two other governors lost their recall elections, the most recent being in 2003, when California Governor Gray Davis was unseated and replaced by Hollywood action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and three Republican state senators also survived recall campaigns waged against them. Democrats had hoped to pick up at least one of those Republican seats to give them control of the chamber.

The recall effort attracted money and attention from Republican and Democratic supporters across the country. Walker raised $30 million to fight the recall, compared to Barrett's $4 million.

Likely Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a statement congratulating Walker, saying the results will “echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin.”

Political analysts say Walker's victory could mean that Romney could defeat Democratic President Barack Obama in Wisconsin in November's general election. Mr. Obama easily won Wisconsin in the 2008 presidential campaign, and a survey of voters who cast their ballots Tuesday showed Mr. Obama with a lead over Romney.