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June 6, 2012 at 1:34 AM
For UW Election Eye, it has been an epic two weeks traveling to every nook and cranny of the most divided state on America’s political landscape. Now that Scott Walker has secured a decisive victory, the once recalled — now redeemed — governor of Wisconsin has a second, more important mandate: heal his embittered electorate.
WAUKESHA, Wisc. — Scott Kevin Walker brought something to the victory podium last night that few folks had seen him exhibit on the campaign trail: some humility.
I’ve made mistakes, he said, and I’ve learned from them. I didn’t communicate as well as I should. I wish I’d taken more time to work through disagreements.
It seemed a remarkable turnaround for a governor nearly done in by his own wince-worthy words: “divide and conquer.” If Walker keeps his pledge from that podium, it’s now going to be “unite and overcome.”
June 5, 2012 at 7:22 PM
WAUKESHA, Wisc. – Sixteen months and more than 63 million advertising dollars later, Republican Scott Walker has become the first incumbent governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election, defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a 53% to 46% margin – slightly larger than his 52% to 46% win over Barrett the first time around in 2010.
Even before the capital city of Madison and the state’s largest city, Milwaukee, had announced all of their precinct totals, Walker had the votes to remain the most polarizing governor in America.
As Wisconsin’s top political leader, he has now survived a withering attack from unions and other Democrat friendly organizations to stay in the spotlight as both Tea Party darling and future presidential hopeful.
“This is our night,” Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas told me over the sustained cheering of a few thousand Tea Partiers near Walker’s hometown of Wauwatosa. “Wisconsin sends a message tonight that we want solid fiscal management in our state.”
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch began her rousing speech with this eye-poking gem: “Now this is what democracy looks like!” (This had been Barrett’s opening line at every stop along the campaign trail.)
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also held on to his post despite a very unpopular middle-of-the-night legislative maneuver that broke the back of collective bargaining in this state. It was called Act 10 and led to 14 Democratic State Senators disappearing into Illinois for about a month to avoid passage of the highly volatile legislation.
Three of the four recalled Republican State Senators are already projected winners and presumed safe in their seats in Madison.
A North Dakota governor was successfully recalled early in the 20th century and California’s Gray Davis was given the boot in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003.
June 5, 2012 at 1:23 PM
UW Election Eye is on a slow crawl from Wausau to Waukesha, Wisconsin — in search of those unique small town stories that can tilt critical elections one way or the other. Polls close here at 8pm Central, 6pm Pacific. We will be with GOP Gov. Scott Walker — win or lose — later this evening near his hometown. His repeat Democratic challenger of 19 months ago is Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.
WEYAUWEGA, Wisc. — It is becoming increasingly clear on this 159-mile trek from Stevens Point to Waukesha that the most under-reported story in this fantastically expensive recall race is how many moderate and left-leaning Wisconsinites are voting Walker simply because they don’t think it’s fair he has to run twice in less than two years.
Take politically independent police officer Jerry Poltrock, for example. He is voting for Walker for only one reason: “How many times does this guy have to win to be governor?” he said while parking his cruiser along Main Street in this town of 1,889 people 45 minutes west of Appleton. “I am totally Scott Walker today.”
Jerry Solberg, whose son was pumping their pickup truck full of gas half a block away at the BP station, said he is sick to his stomach over what he believes is Gov. Walker’s impact on Wisconsin youth. “I feel so bad for these kids, trying to get going in life and having to put up with some sucker who’s doing nothing but taking every thing and every opportunity away from them. Yeah, I voted for Barrett and so will half this town, I promise you.”
Mary Jo Patton was enjoying a late lunch at The Coffee Klatsch along Main. “That guy Walker is a crook and a liar. This is definitely a swing town in a pretty red [Republican] county,” Patton said. She’s right. Waupaca County is not beet red because of the growing population of 20-somethings moving to small town east central Wisconsin to get away from the big city life.
Barrett will be appearing in Milwaukee tonight for the recall returns while UWEE moves on to Waukesha, where Gov. Walker will either celebrate or lament the night away.
Stay tuned, and join our live chat for more on-the-ground observations.
June 5, 2012 at 12:43 AM
For 16 months, Wisconsinites have been living a surreal dream – one in which the heroes and villains are strictly a matter of political preference. If Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic challenger Tom Barrett beats incumbent GOP Governor Scott Walker in today’s recall election, it will be the biggest political shocker in Wisconsin history.
UW Election Eye will have a front row seat to either the governor’s victory or defeat tonight in Waukesha. But first, we will be “live” blogging from various precincts throughout the day.
WAUSAU, Wisc. – There may be a trickle of undecided voters left as Wisconsinites awaken to the most politically charged day in anybody’s memory, but good luck finding any.