Walker Survives Wisconsin Recall, Republicans Win Big

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012 at 6:03 am

The eyes of the nation were fixed on Wisconsin on Tuesday as an unprecedented wave of recall elections took place in the state.

The big news is, despite all of the efforts to oust him, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has survived the recall election, defeating the Democratic mayor of Milwaukee to keep the state’s top political job.

Walker becomes the first governor in American history to stay in office after a recall challenge.

The Republican governor rose to national prominence last year after taking on public-sector unions shortly after being sworn in. That fight also triggered the recall and set up a rematch with Tom Barrett, who was defeated by Walker in 2010.

Walker argued his policies were necessary to confront the state’s budget problems.

The loss is a blow to Democrats and to unions that spent millions to oust Walker.

Turnout for the historic Wisconsin recall election was more than 55 percent.

More than 2.4 million people cast ballots Tuesday, which would be about 56 percent of eligible voters statewide. The Government Accountability Board had predicted that up to 65 percent of eligible voters would go to the polls, so although the turnout was high, it wasn’t quite as high as many had thought it could be.

Walker wasn’t the only targeted republican who survived a recall on Tuesday; Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch did as well defeating Democratic challenger Mahlon Mitchell in a historic recall election.

The Republican Kleefisch was the first lieutenant governor in the nation’s history to face a recall election, and now she’s also the first to survive one.

Since 1970, Wisconsin has elected its governor and lieutenant governor as a pair on a joint ticket. But because of how these recalls were conducted, the races for governor and lieutenant governor were listed separately.

It’s unclear whether Democrats or Republicans won control of the Wisconsin Senate in Tuesday’s recalls.

Three GOP state senators were also forced into recalls and a fourth seat was open. The Democrats also were hoping to pick up a single Senate seat in the recalls to swing the balance of power in that body. The chamber stood evenly divided between the two parties going into Tuesday’s elections. Democrats needed to win just one Senate race to gain a one-seat majority. Republicans needed to win all four.

The GOP swept all the contests except in Racine’s 23rd Senate District. Democrat John Lehman led incumbent GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard by fewer than 800 votes with all precincts reporting, making the race too close to call.

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