Scott Walker wins in Wisconsin, lands big blow to unions
(CNN) – In a vote that could have implications on both the November presidential race and for organized labor, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday successfully overcame a recall vote that would have removed him from office.
With almost all of the votes in, Walker, a Republican hero for pushing austerity measures that stripped collective bargaining rights from most public unions, led Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a 53-46 margin.
Tuesday’s vote was the culmination of a 15-month near-civil war that pitted unions and Democratic supporters against fiscal conservatives and Republicans after Walker signed a bill in March 2011 passed by the Republican-controlled legislature that took collective bargaining rights away from public employee unions in a effort to close the state’s budget gap.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators opposing Walker crowded the grounds around the state capitol and hung banners of protest in its rotunda after Walker signed the bill and kicked off a recall drive that gathered 900,000 signatures — nearly 400,000 more than required.
“Tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions,” he told a roaring crowd at his campaign headquarters in Waukesha.
He also addressed the polarized climate in the normally centrist state — his crowd jeered when he mentioned that he had a phone conversation with Barrett before taking the stage.
“Bringing our state together will take some time — there’s just no doubt about it,” he said.
But he offered a first step by inviting members of the legislature over for bratwursts and burgers, “and then maybe a little bit of good Wisconsin beer, as well.”