Republican Scott Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to retain the governorship in a recall election in Wisconsin. As David A. Farenthold and Rachel Weiner reported:
Exit polls showed that Democrats had captured nearly 69 percent of the voters who made up their minds in the past few days. But it wasn’t enough.
Instead, the night provided a huge boost for Walker — as well as Republicans in Washington and state capitals who have embraced the same energetic, austere brand of fiscal conservatism as a solution for recession and debt. In a state known for a strong progressive tradition, Walker defended his policies against the full force of the labor movement and the modern left.
And he won, again.
Walker clearly relished his victory, saying, “Tonight we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.”
Even with the race ended, the divisions in the state remain. As The Fix reported:
One Barrett supporter slapped the mayor when he conceded, saying he should have waited until all the votes were in. When Barrett said both sides would have to “work together,” he was booed by both his crowd in Milwaukee and the Walker supporters in Waukesha.
“I think Scott is more of a grown-up than I would be if the situation were reversed,” said Lisa Kurth of Waukesha after the speech.
Many Walker supporters were enthusiastic about taking on President Obama next. When Obama was mentioned on the news, the crowd booed loudly.
Walker’s win might portend good things for Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney in November’s presidential election. As Dan Baltz explained:
Romney can hope to replicate Walker’s model in two areas. The first is money. Walker raised more than $30 million for his recall campaign, with some from large donations that exceeded the normal limits because of the laws governing recall elections. Barrett raised $4 million. Romney won’t raise significantly more than Obama. But the presumptive GOP nominee can count on Republican super PACs to give him an overall advantage.
Obama began the campaign more than a year ago amid assumptions that he would easily raise more than his Republican opponent. But Obama advisers worry that they will be heavily outspent by GOP super PACs. Other than the state of the economy, that potential funding disparity is the campaign’s biggest concern. Money may not decide the election in the end, but Romney and the Republicans currently appear to have the edge there.
Walker’s victory was a party victory. The Republican Governors Association spent more than $9 million in his behalf. The Republican National Committee, led by Reince Priebus, a former Wisconsin GOP chair, and the state Republican Party combined for a total effort in mobilizing voters. All that paid dividends in defining Barrett and building an organization that proved superior to what many Democrats considered a fine get-out-the-vote operation of their own that was run by their party and the unions.