According to initial tabulations, Walker received 1.33 million votes, or 53 percent, while Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett received 1.16 million, or 46 percent, and independent Hari Trivedi received 14,332, or 1 percent. About 57 percent of the eligible voters turned out for the recall, which played out much like the 2010 gubernatorial race in which Walker beat Barrett.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Walker urged supporters to move forward from the recall and focus on putting the state back to work and closing the divide in Wisconsin.
"I’ll meet with my cabinet in the state's Capitol and we’ll review our commitment to help small businesses grow jobs in the state," Walker said. "We’ll renew our commitment to help improve the quality of life for all our citizens, both for people who voted for me and those who voted for someone else."
At one point, Walker noted that he received a call from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, conceding the race. Walker said he looked forward to working with the mayor to helping the city of Milwaukee. However, his supporters booed when they heard Barrett's name, leading Walker to stop his supporters from booing, saying "The election is over."
In his concession speech, Barrett urged unity following his defeat.
"We are a state that is deeply divided," Barrett said, and urged his supporters and those who backed Walker to to continue "lively discourse" and to listen to the other side. "At the end of the day we need to do what is right for Wisconsin families."
On the national stage, Walker’s strong victory, coupled with his strong support from major GOP donors such as the Koch brothers, raised speculation among political pundits that Walker could be considered as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s running mate this fall or even as a presidential candidate in 2016.
Meanwhile, Kleefisch defeated Dem nominee Mahlon Mitchell in the nation's first recall election for that office.
In the other recall races on the ballot, Republicans hung onto three Senate seats. However, Democrat John Lehman declared victory in the 21st Senate District, which would give Dems control of the Senate 17-16 for the remainder of the session. GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard said just after midnight he wanted to study the final results and contemplate his options today.
Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls and Rep. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon won the races in the 13th, 23rd and 29th Senate Districts, respectively.
“I really believe that a divided Legislature often moves towards reasonableness,” Lehman told reporters.
Lehman said his margin of victory was less than 1,000 votes, but added that he had not seen an exact count.
“Remember how months ago we were talking about how this might be a tight one? It was a tight one,” Lehman said.
Lehman said that his campaign feels the numbers are strong enough to prevail even if there is a recount. He said he had not spoken to his opponent, Van Wanggaard, and acknowledged there had been no concession.
“I can see why he might do that, if it is that close, we might have to have a recount,” Lehman said.
For ongoing coverage, visit WisPolitics.com, a media partner of BizTimes.