Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survives bruising recall election
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a bruising recall election after winning 53% of the vote last night.
The Associated Press reported that the Republican Governor received 1,334,450 votes (or 53%) while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, received 1,162,785 votes (or 46%). The state of Wisconsin does not report official election night results, according to the state’s Government Accountability Board, which oversees Wisconsin’s elections.
“It is time to move on and move forward in Wisconsin,” Walker told his supporters on Tuesday. “Tomorrow, I’ll meet with my cabinet in the state’s capitol, and we’ll renew our commitment to help small businesses grow jobs in this state. We’ll renew our commitment to help grow the quality of life for all of our citizens, both those who voted for me and those who voted for someone else. Because tomorrow is the day after the election, and tomorrow we are no longer opponents. Tomorrow, we are one as Wisconsinites so together we can move Wisconsin forward.”
With the win, Walker became the nation’s first sitting Governor to survive a recall election.
Walker emerged victorious from the acrimonious race after spending more than $20.8 million this year to fend off Barrett, according to campaign finance reports. Barrett performed well considering that he was hopelessly outspent by about 10 to 1, spending about $2.9 million this year.
Background on recall election
Democrats petitioned for Walker’s recall after the Republican governor forced through a bill in the state legislature that would strip the collective bargaining rights of state workers. The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, also known as the “Wisconsin budget repair bill”, eliminated the collective bargaining of state employee pay, retirement benefits, health insurance, and sick leaves.
Fourteen Democratic Senators fled the state to boycott the vote, but the bill was passed by the Wisconsin legislature in February of 2011 as tens of thousands of state employees, union workers, and their supporters protested outside the state capitol.
Shortly thereafter, Democrats, backed by unions, petitioned for the recall of Walker and Republican State Senators who supported the anti-collective bargaining bill.
The one silver lining for Democrats is that the recall election has given them a majority in the state Senate until November.
‘War in Wisconsin’
Throughout the campaign, Barrett attacked Walker’s “divide and conquer” politics and scorch-earth approach to governing as demonstrated by the anti-collective bargaining bill.
“Isn’t it time to end the civil war in Wisconsin? Scott Walker has divided our state. And while he’s pursued his ideological agenda, last year Wisconsin lost more jobs than any state in the country. We can’t afford to have a Governor who says, ‘It my way or the highway'”, Barrett said in a television ad titled “Civil”. “As Governor, I’ll focus on jobs and education. And I’ll fight to restore collective bargaining rights for teachers and public employees…It’s time to bring Wisconsin together.”
Later in the campaign, Barrett attacked Walker for “stonewalling” a criminal corruption investigation, which has resulted in charges filed against three of Walker’s former aides from when he served as the Milwaukee County executive.
Walker, with his considerable campaign funds, struck back against Barrett, painting the Milwaukee Mayor as a tax-and-spend liberal whose policies have resulted in 26% higher unemployment in his city.
Bridging the deep political division
Recognizing that the hard-fought race has deepened the political division in the state, both candidates made a point of urging their supporters to unite and help the state move forward.
“We are a state that has been deeply divided. And it is up to all of us – our side and their side – to listen. To listen to each other and to try to do what’s right for everyone in this state,” Barrett told his supporters. “The state remains divided, and it is my hope that while we have lively debates, a lively discourse which is healthy in any democracy, that those who are victorious tonight as well as those of us who are not victorious tonight can at the end of the day do what is right for Wisconsin families.”
- Associated Press: Election results for Wisconsin recall on June 5, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Remarks by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker after winning the recall election
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett concedes to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
- Wisconsin Campaign Finance Information System: Scott Walker’s campaign expenditure disclosure (PDF)
- Wisconsin Campaign Finance Information System: Tom Barrett’s campaign expenditure disclosure (PDF)
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board’s website
- YouTube.com/user/SupportScottWalker: Television ad “Records”
- YouTube.com/user/BarrettForWisconsin: Television ad “Stonewalled”
- YouTube.com/user/BarrettForWisconsin: Television ad “Civil”
- Tom Barrett’s campaign website
- Scott Walker’s campaign website
- JSOnline.com: Public-sector unions are clear losers in Walker victory
- Wisconsin.gov: 2011 WISCONSIN ACT 10
- Reuters.com: Democrats flee Wisconsin to protest union curbs
- NYTimes.com: Wisconsin Assembly Passes Anti-Union Bill as Senate Democrats Stay Away