UNDATED (WSAU) Scott Walker became the nation’s first governor ever to survive a recall election – and it was not as close as many predicted. With over 99-percent of the vote counted, the Republican Walker led Democrat Tom Barrett 53-to-46 percent, with Brookfield kidney specialist Hari Trivedi getting the other one-percent.
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. 2.5-million people voted, about 300,000 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 72,000.
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.