Republican Governor Scott Walker survives Wisconsin recall election
By Nick Carey
MILWAUKEE | Tue Jun 5, 2012 11:08pm EDT
(Reuters) - Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will become the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election, television networks projected on Tuesday, a setback for labor unions and a boost to Republican hopes in November's presidential election.
Major networks projected Walker would be the winner about an hour after the polls closed in Wisconsin in the divisive election that left families at odds and neighbors not speaking to each over Walker's push to curtail collective bargaining by public sector workers.
With 29 percent of the vote counted, Walker led Democratic challenger Tom Barrett 60 percent to 40 percent, according to unofficial returns, although this was expected to narrow.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch also survived a historic recall attempt Tuesday, turning back her Democratic challenger and avoiding becoming the first lieutenant governor in the nation's history to be recalled.
Kleefisch faced a recall along with her boss, Gov. Scott Walker, who also won his recall election. Walker and Kleefisch are both Republicans.
Turnout was high in closely divided Wisconsin, which helped elect Democrat Barack Obama as president in 2008. The contest has been seen as a barometer of the U.S. political climate going into the presidential election in November.
Multiple media outlets reported that in the lead-up to Tuesday’s historic recall election a pro-Walker robo-call incorrectly told voters that anyone who signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker didn’t need to vote on Tuesday.
The recall election led to huge campaign spending in the Midwestern Rust Belt state, with some estimates that more than $60 million was raised.
Roberta Komor, 53, of the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, said she had voted for Barrett when he ran in 2010, but this time voted for Walker.
The law firm secretary said that in today's hard times, unions "need to learn about shared sacrifice" when workers in the private sector have seen their benefits or wages cut.
"They have had everything handed to them on a platter," Komor said. "They need to be on a par with the rest of us."
Many voters seemed relieved the election had finally come, and voiced disgust with the recall process.
"There are too many recall elections that have been going on in the state and it needs to be stopped," said Carolyn Gral, 51, a Walker supporter and homemaker who is looking for a job.