Well, he did it. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is the first to remain in office after a recall — winning with a narrow margin of 53 percent of the vote stacked against 46 taken by Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett.
In a sign of magnanimity, Walker hushed the crowd during his victory speech when they booed Barrett.
“No, no, no,” he said. “The election is over. I talked to the mayor and we had a good conversation.
“Bringing our state together will take some time, but I hope to start right away. It is time to put our differences aside and figure out ways that we can move Wisconsin forward.”
He then made a gesture at sharing a lunch table with his opponents eating burgers, brats, and “maybe a little bit of good Wisconsin beer.”
The recall was fueled by democrats and union leaders who garnered 900,000 signatures of voters concerned about his opposition to certain unions in his successful attempt to turn around the State’s debt, which under his guidance went from over a billion in the red to over 100 million in surplus.
Money is also the excuse his opponents are making for his victory: Republicans spent $45.6 million on the election whereas Democrats spent $17.9 million. In campaign fundraising, Walker had nearly an eight-to-one advantage over his opponent.
Said Tate, the state Democratic leader, “The fact that Scott Walker spent nearly $50-plus million is a fact that simply can’t be ignored. They’ve got millionaires and billionaires who can just write checks to buy endless amounts of TV ads, and that makes it problematic for us. This shouldn’t have even been a close contest,” he said, implying that credulous television viewing was more important for the Republican victory than Walker’s successes in office.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka was a bit more magnanimous in his concession of defeat:
“We wanted a different outcome, but Wisconsin forced the governor to answer for his efforts to divide the state and punish hard-working people. Their resolve has inspired a nation to follow their lead and stand up for the values of hard work, unity, and decency that we believe in. We hope Scott Walker heard Wisconsin: Nobody wants divisive policies. It’s time to work together to forge a new path forward. The challenge to solve a generation of economic politics and create an economy that celebrates hard work over a partisan agenda gained momentum today.”
The Republican victory may turn the state Red before November’s elections, which would drastically change Wisconsin’s long standing tendency to vote Democrat.