Updated: Walker survives recallMADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall challenge Tuesday, but not with Douglas County's help.
By: Associated Press,Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall challenge Tuesday, winning both the right to finish his term and a voter endorsement of his strategy to curb state spending, which included the explosive measure that eliminated union rights for most public workers.
The rising Republican star becomes the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt with his defeat of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the union leaders who rallied for months against his agenda.
In an interview, Walker said it was time “to put our differences aside and find ways to work together to move Wisconsin forward.”
The governor said he planned to invite lawmakers to meet as soon as next week over burgers and brats to discuss ways to bridge the political divide.
With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Walker was ahead 57 percent to 42 percent for Barrett, according to early returns tabulated by the Associated Press.
A Barrett spokesman said the campaign was not conceding, citing ongoing voting in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine.
In Douglas County, voters headed to the polls in droves — turnout ranging from 39 percent to 94 percent in Superior and rural communities to cast their ballots in favor of Barrett. Overall voter turnout was about 69 percent of the vote.
While Barrett carried the city of Superior with a 2-1 margin, Walker did win in the towns of Bennett, Cloverland, Dairyland Wascott and the village of Poplar. Lake Nebagamon voters tied between Walker and Barrett, and a single vote gave Barrett the lead in Highland.
Barrett took 64 percent of the vote in Douglas County.
Democrats and organized labor spent millions to oust Walker, but found themselves hopelessly outspent by Republicans from across the country who donated record-setting sums to Walker. Republicans hope the victory carries over into November and that their get-out-the-vote effort can help Mitt Romney become the first GOP nominee to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
The recall was a rematch of the 2010 governor’s race. Throughout the campaign, Walker maintained his policies set the state on the right economic track. Defeat, he said, would keep other politicians from undertaking such bold moves in the future.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” Walker said many times. “We’re turning things around. We’re moving Wisconsin forward.”
Barrett repeatedly accused Walker of neglecting the needs of the state in the interests of furthering his own political career by making Wisconsin “the tea party capital of the country.” He said Walker had instigated a political civil war in Wisconsin that could be quelled only by a change in leadership.
“I will end this civil war,” Barrett promised in a debate. “That is something the people of this state want.”
Walker ascended into the national spotlight last year when he surprised the state and unveiled plans to plug a $3.6 billion budget shortfall in part by taking away the union rights of most public workers and requiring them to pay more for their health insurance and pension benefits. It was one of his first moves in office.
Democrats and labor leaders saw it as a political tactic designed to gut the power of his political opposition.