Walker’s victory margin was slightly bigger than when he first defeated Barrett in 2010. Amid chants of “Thank You Scott,” Walker told his victory party in Waukesha that voters quote, “really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.” And he vowed more cooperation with his opponents, after he acted quickly last year to slash collective bargaining rights for most public employee unions.
In a scene reminiscent of last year’s demonstrations against the union law, over a-thousand people gathered at the State Capitol last night as the returns were coming in. Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor, told supporters to keep fighting for what they believe in. State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said his side was badly out-spent, but the recall battle was still worth fighting. And Tate said it would be a mistake to call Wisconsin a “red state” now.
Barrett only carried one-of-every-six counties, including his home county of Milwaukee and Madison’s Dane County by roughly 2-to-1 margins. Barrett also won in La Crosse, Portage, Rock, Iowa, Kenosha, Columbia, Menominee, Ashland, Bayfield, and Douglas counties. Although some places reported turnouts of 80-percent, the statewide total was only around 58-percent. Two-and-a-half million people voted, about 300-thousand less than what state officials had projected.
Republican Rebecca Kleefisch stays on as lieutenant governor, after she defeated state firefighters union president Mahlon Mitchell 53-to-47 percent. But Walker will no longer have a G-O-P Senate to work with, at least until after the November elections. Democrats temporarily won the majority during the night, when former Racine Senator John Lehman recaptured the seat he lost in 2010 to Republican Van Wanggaard. Lehman won 51-to-49 percent, with a margin of 221 votes out of 72-thousand cast. Senate G-O-P leader Scott Fitzgerald and Chippewa Falls Republican Terry Moulton easily won their contests, each getting 57-to-58 percent of the vote. And Assembly Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon got 61-percent in defeating Assembly Democrat Donna Seidel of Wausau for the seat vacated when recall target Pam Galloway resigned in March.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said Governor Scott Walker’s recall election victory would quote, “echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin.” State G-O-P workers hoped their get-out-the-vote effort for Walker would carry into the fall, and help Romney become the first Republican to win the Badger State’s presidential votes since Ronald Reagan’s second term in 1984.
But President Obama’s camp said their man would still prevail in Wisconsin. Obama state campaign director Trippe Wellde pointed to exit polls yesterday which showed that voters favored the president over Romney. And Wellde said the recall effort sent a strong message to Walker about quote, “the politics of division.”
But the former Massachusetts governor said Walker showed that taxpayers can fight back and prevail against quote, “the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses.” And Romney predicted that Wisconsinites would reject old liberal ideas in favor of “fiscal responsibility and a new direction.”