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A Win for Walker: Historic Recall Sees High Voter Turnout

After a long, politically charged year, Gov. Scott Walker wins re-election in divisive recall race. Though Democrats congratulated Walker, they say the fight isn't over.

A historic day in Wisconsin ended with even more history made Tuesday as Republican Gov. Scott Walker is now the only governor in the United States to win re-election after facing a recall.

Garnering 53 percent of the vote over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's 46 percent, Walker will continue in office as the state's governor.

"I want to thank God for his abundant grace," Walker said during his victory speech in Waukesha County. 

Walker said it was the supporters who said they were praying for him who helped him get through the past year of turmoil.

"I can't tell you what that means to us," Walker said. "On behalf of our family, we say thank you to all of you. The election is over. It is time to move Wisconsin forward."

Walker supporters rallied at the Waukesha County Expo, where the governor held his victory party.

At the Hilton Hotel in Milwaukee, Barrett gave a speech at a time when he, too, had hoped he would be celebrating. 

"I'm honored that you are all here, that you have fought for this Democracy that is so important to each and every one of us," Barrett said, shortly after he said he called Walker to congratulate him on his win.

And though much of the state was painted red, a few areas held strongly to their blue colors: Dane County, for instance, gave Barrett 69 percent of the vote. In Milwaukee County, Barrett took 63 of the vote.

As of early Wednesday, Barrett was also ahead in Portage, Menominee, La Crosse, Iowa, Dane, Columbia, Rock, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ashland, Bayfield and Douglas counties.

”The election is over. It is time to move Wisconsin forward."

But that means 60 counties in Wisconsin voted for Walker. The highest percentage win as of midnight was in Washington County, with a 75 percent vote for Walker; following next in line was Waukesha County with 72 percent and Ozaukee County with 71 percent.

A turnout that could turn heads

The day was historic for many reasons: this is the first recall election ever held in the state, and it earned extremely high voter turnout.

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board had predicted a 60 to 65 percent turnout — which would top the record-holding 52.4 percent turnout seen in the 1962 gubernatorial election. The predicted turnout would fall short of the 69.2 percent turnout seen in the 2008 presidential election, though.

But, it seems, in many places — records may have been set.

In Muskego, for instance, voter turnout is estimated to be at 86 percent, the same as in Menomonee Falls. In Sturtevant, poll workers believe they hit 77 percent. In Port Washington, voter turnout was 78 percent. In Shorewood, 74 percent. In Greenfield, 71 percent. In Whitefish Bay, 88 percent. Waukesha saw a 78 percent turnout, and 80 percent visited the polls in Mount Pleasant.

Though such a high turnout did not yield results that Democrats across the state were hoping, it doesn't change their strong stance against Walker's tactics.

"The results Tuesday do not stop our firm opposition to the changes sought by Scott Walker," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a statement. "In fact, even as we congratulate Scott Walker and the Republican Party of Wisconsin on winning a hard-fought fight, we look for him to join us in changing the tenor and tone of the debate.

"Regardless of party, Wisconsin must be Wisconsin again, without the big money Tea Party influence that has colonized our state, turned neighbor-against-neighbor and created an idea dangerous to democracy, that our very government is up for sale," Tate added.

Not the first defeat

In November 2010, after incumbent Jim Doyle chose not to run for re-election, Walker defeated Barrett with 52 percent of the vote to become the state’s 45th governor.

Just a few short months later, however, Walker announced how he planned to follow through on his campaign promise to eliminate the state’s deficit — in part by stripping collective bargaining rights for public employees through Act 10 — creating what has become a never-ending political season in Wisconsin. Since February 2011, the state has been as politically divided as it has ever been.

After handily winning the Democratic primary in May, Barrett was set up for a rematch against his 2010 rival, and the result was pretty much the same.

"This is a great victory for Wisconsin families. Wisconsinites made it very clear they want to continue moving our state forward, and that’s why Wisconsinites returned to the polls once again and cast their vote," Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brad Courtney said in a statement. "A liberal minority of activists and out-of-state unions pushed this baseless recall on Wisconsin in order to move us backward; Wisconsin turned out once again and showed they will not have their voices drowned out by this liberal minority, and they were heard loud and clear."

Other races on the ballot

Also on the ballot for lieutenant governor were Republican Rebecca Kleefisch and Democrat Mahlon Mitchell. The results of this race followed closely with statewide party trends: Kleefisch won re-election with 53 percent of the vote, while Mitchell had 47.

Kleefisch took the stage at Walker's victory party at Waukesha County Expo for a short speech after the win was announced.

"Now this is what Democracy looks like," Kleefisch said. "Years from now, people will be saying 'The campaign to save America began tonight in Wisconsin.'"

On the other end of things, Mitchell made it clear that Tuesday's election was no milestone for the Democrats, and that the group would continue to work for the change it believed in.

"The fight did not end today whether we won or loss. ... I'm not done with this fight and I know Mayor Barrett is not done with this fight," Mitchell said. "This is not the last you've heard of Mahlon Mitchell. This is not the last you've heard of Tom Barrett."

So Walker stays ... or does he?

Attack ads, campaign mailings and billboards, political media reports and more have invaded the lives of Wisconsinites for more than a year now, and at least one state resident was certain that the outcome of the election was based more in anger of the recall than on the issues.

David Ryan, of Genesee, was volunteering at Walker's election night party at the Waukesha County Expo Center, and predicted a 10-point victory for the governor.

Ryan said he didn't feel that Walker has any challenges to get over in the election. The key, he said, would be the voter turnout in Milwaukee and Madison — traditionally Democratic areas.

"I think the population is so pissed off that they are having the recall that they are all voting Walker," Ryan said. "I don’t that there is that many people that really need to make up their minds. I think line is pretty much drawn and has been since November last year."

While some may disagree with Ryan's analysis, the tense political atmosphere in Wisconsin has thrust Walker into a national spotlight — and his win tonight is an even bigger deal, according to the Washington Post, which was quick to write a column wondering whether presidential hopefully Mitt Romney would consider Walker a viable candidate for the next vice president, especially considering his strong defeat in Wisconsin.

"Wisconsin and the upper Midwest are crucial to Mr. Romney and, in the wake of Tuesday’s results, Mr. Walker could do more for the ticket than almost anybody else," the article said. "One unknown in the political equation is whether Mr. Romney is enough of a risk-taker to go for someone seen as a hero to the party base but who inspires intense negative passions in the opposition."

— Patch editors Jeff Rumage and Sarah Millard contributed to this article.

morninmist June 08, 2012 at 09:20 PM
@Greg You are confused. As you can see, the email was signed by Mark Miller. ................... Greg 11:56 am on Friday, June 8, 2012 Morninmist, Provide the actual text to the Lehman E-mail above or shut-up forever.
Jay Sykes June 08, 2012 at 09:27 PM
@Brian... About what percent of the federal income tax should the middle class(about 50% of population) carry? the bottom 25%; Top 25%, further subdivided as Top 10% and Top 1%
Greg June 08, 2012 at 09:29 PM
OK then, did Miller E-mail this? "The Democrats did gain a seat and FitzWalkerstan has been neutered."
CowDung June 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Did I misread something Morninmist? Are you saying that the e-mail in your '6:48 am on Friday, June 8, 2012' post was signed by Mark Miller? It looked to me that right before the FitzWalkerstan line, the author states that "I met Mark Miller this past weekend. He made a stop to help canvass with us.". I'm now confused about what this e-mail is and who wrote it. What am I missing here?
morninmist June 08, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I am proud we got rid of one of Walker's parrots. Simple as that. ............... James R Hoffa 11:45 am on Friday, June 8, 2012 @morninmist - So, you're proud that you ousted the state senator who...
Greg June 08, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I'm confused by a bogus post.
Bob McBride June 08, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Multi-millions of dollars spent to no effect other than getting "rid of one of Walker's parrots". And you're proud of that. You're an idiot. Simple as that. ........ morninmist 4:53 pm on Friday, June 8, 2012 I am proud we got rid of one of Walker's parrots. Simple as that.
James R Hoffa June 08, 2012 at 10:48 PM
@morninmist - So basically, what you're admitting to right here is that you have no good reasons that you can point to for supporting Lehman other than your hatred and contempt towards Walker and his supporters. BTW - Did you also know that during his past term as a state senator, Lehman did not draft a single bill that received bi-partisan support. And as we've already established, Wanggaard was the champion of drafting bi-partisan supported legislation this last term. So, all that talk from your side about wanting to work together was in all reality nothing but lip service, as the Wanggaard recall CLEARLY shows. This was a power play by sore losers that wanted a do over, pure and simple. If you and your buddies had any dignity or integrity at all, you'd all be sending in checks to the Wisc Dept of Revenue to pay back the state and local municipalities for this colossal waste of time and money that you insisted upon. So I ask again, which side is it that has truly divided this state? Maybe one day, you'll actually get a clue!
Bewildered June 08, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Misty.... So bitter, so very, very bitter
morninmist June 09, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Patriot Whow. You really missed my point so I will explain in more detail. The pic I directed you to was of the Overpass Light Brigade with the caption "We shall overcome" Try focusing on the beauty of the phase instead of ranting of your hatred for Obama. But, in the end, I sense that the photo and its significance is lost on you. .......................... Patriot 10:28 am on Friday, June 8, 2012 .................. @Morn-Your faciast, communist, socialist ideology will not prevail in a FREE AMERICA!! Your pic says it all with images of a young Obama? You have to be kidding me right? He is the biggest socialist, racist president this country has ever seen illegal at that. Obama will be defeated if he is not prosecuted for pulling of the biggest SCAM ever!!
Patriot June 09, 2012 at 09:33 AM
@Morn-No I understood it completely. We did overcome!! We overcame your sensless recall of our Gov. Now all we here is the hate and rhetoric about how your man Lehmann won district 21. To me that is really sad and also shows the mentality of the left. Lehmann is an evil man with no good intentions. But what I find very strange is the fact Racine Country went republican for Gov and Lt Gov by 5 to 6% yet Sen Waangard lost by 1%. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm how is that possible? What is there to overcome Morn? The majority of Wisconsin wants smaller, more fiscally responsible Government, we want all entitlement spending reigned in, and the welfare system completely overhauled!! There are many individuals living on the system who are fully capable of getting out and being responsible for themselves. But I know your going to say there is no fraud!! Well We Did Overcome on Tuesday June 5th when we defeated your facist, communist, socialist move to spread your ideology!! I think you will be quite surprised come Nov when America starts to wake up to this evil that seems to be flooding our streets.
Thurston Howell III June 09, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Brian, Please stop making sense. It's like telling children there is no Santa Clause!
Ed Larson June 09, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Brian Carlson wrote: "Mary, the people of Wisconsin, include all the people who voted for Barrett... where do you folks get off thinking that the Governors percentage is some sort of mandate from the People of Wisconsin? Its ignorance Mary. If all the people approved of this governor, there would have been no recall. If he had such obvious appeal, he would not have had to outspend Barrett 9 to 1...in order to keep his job." I have little doubt that if the numbers were reversed in favor of Barret, Mr. Carlson, would be loudly proclaiming a mandate to undo what Walker did. Just admit your side lost and do what you have to do to convince more Wisconsinites that you have their best interests in mind. Good luck on that BTW The people of WI have voted with their feet in agreement with Walker's budget saving changes. Those are the facts and the ranting and attempted minimization of the results are nothing more than sour grapes. Enjoy.
Thurston Howell III June 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
A lot of people are claiming that the Recall accomplished nothing. The fact say something different. Democrats are now in the majority in the Senate. What that has done is to stop Walker from calling a special session to do even further damage to Public education and the environment. He will be a lame duck governor until 2013 except fro the abuse of power that he gained by the passage of Act 11 which give the executive branch unprecedented power. While for from a win for those who favored the recall, it is something accomplished.
Brian Carlson June 09, 2012 at 06:41 PM
I dont have a "side" Ed. You may be happy to imagine that there are only twos of everything... I am not. If I am against something, it is off the shelf knee jerk parroting of other people's ideas. I like people to think for themselves... not to pull on one of two t-shirts offered at the t-shirt stand.
Brian Carlson June 09, 2012 at 06:46 PM
FBI JDW.... the recall also allowed people to realize that unilateral decision making, the sort of join us or screw you mentality, vocalized so strongly by a new crop of young republicans, the sort of clap trap suprematist attitude that rises from so many comments on this thread, doesnt work. As Walker now says (at least he SAYS it) oh... I think now I will talk to people...and uh listen some more... Looking out his window and seeing sixty thousand people revolving around the capitol building..should have been a signal that political condescension is NOT what his job is about.
Jay Sykes June 09, 2012 at 08:17 PM
@FBI.... The lame-duck is a double-edged sword, as it will become more clear in the next 7 months if the Walker reforms performed or failed. While the Democrats can say they stopped Walker, depending on the outcomes, this may work in their favor or not;stopped further damage or obstructionism, only time will tell.
Thurston Howell III June 09, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Gotta love that new Walker Team "Bi-Partisan" attitude. His Hooters press person can't help herself! http://o3.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims3/PATCH/resize/600x450/http://hss-prod.hss.aol.com/hss/storage/patch/bc9bab732d4debf7a1d85ff4ee4e26a1
lolo peeg June 09, 2012 at 08:50 PM
@Jim, at 20 bucks a pop, there would be a lot fewer fake signatures. Even the leftists in this state are frugal
lolo peeg June 09, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Righto, it was the "tea party" that was at fault? Our government is not bought and paid for by govt-sector unions? How stupid is that Tate. I hope he keeps his job, we can use stupid opponents.
James R Hoffa June 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
District 21 - Lehman v Wanggaard: Numbers show strange results. Walker received 36,505 votes in the District. Wanggaard received 35,476 votes. For a discrepancy of: 1,029 votes. Barrett received 36,572 votes in the District. Lehman received 36,255 votes. For a discrepancy of: 317 votes. There were 1,218 scattering and undervotes recorded in the senate race. Conservative leaning precincts recorded nearly 2.8 times the number of undervotes in comparison to liberal leaning precincts. That translates to roughly 783 scattering / undervotes as supporting Walker, and 435 having supported Barrett. Wanggaard's loss of support from Walker voters is over 3 times the amount of support that Lehman lost from Barrett supporters. If we eliminate Wanggaard's share of the scattering/undervotes from his discrepancy, that still leaves us with 246 cross-ticket votes - people that voted for both Walker and Lehman. While Barrett supporters strictly voted for Lehman. Conclusion: Either something is off here, or lazy/traitorous conservatives cost Wanggaard the election.
lolo peeg June 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
The $17 million could have been used to balance the budget
lolo peeg June 09, 2012 at 09:05 PM
You mean to tell me that all the leftists and unionistas in the country could only come up with $4 million for Barrett???? If this election was so important they could have poured in $100 million. Comeon, the big O raises almost that much in one trip to Hollywood. Seems like there was an enthusiam gap on the leftist side......
lolo peeg June 09, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I think Mitchell has already crawled back into his hole, he's likely to be there a long time
jbw June 09, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Yeah, he should have been more like our other political leaders and just accomplished nothing at all consistently, then blamed it on the other party. Doing something that might displease a minority of voters is much too bold for someone in a senior leadership position, after all. Follow in the footsteps of our President and every life-term member of our state and federal legislature and embrace mediocrity! Don't worry, it's just another few months until Barrett leads the charge again with the words "this election is a referendum on the policies of Scott Walker, which the people have clearly supported the last three times I said that, so we will lose again with my help".
morninmist June 09, 2012 at 11:09 PM
She sounds like a sore winner.
Sheva June 11, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Couldn't agree with you more Brian. :)
Patriot June 11, 2012 at 10:16 AM
@Brain-So thats the lefts new spin? Walker out spent Barret 7 to 1. What a crock. Your fogetting the millions that poured into this State when the protests started. The millions invested to start the whole recall process. The millions spent to push the Unions choice Faulk. Funny how that is never mentioned. Your side started the battle and we won the war. Because there is an interest in standing up to the union thugs so shame on Walker. Amazing how you and others on the left always spin things to fit your mold.
Fat Lester June 12, 2012 at 02:19 AM
I'm just glad it's all over. With this mounting debt crisis, Iran, Eurozone crisis and more, issues like some of the ones we fight over here at home seem almost contrived so as to divide us in order for us to be collectively conquered.
morninmist June 12, 2012 at 02:22 PM
We have all be conquered by Walker whether we recognize it or not. Prune Juice Media ‏@PruneJuiceMedia REVIEW: Cartoon Displays Backward Mentality of Wisconsin Voters http://goo.gl/fb/mWNtb #WIrecall #p2 #tcot

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