Supporters for Tom Barrett watch early election returns June 5, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Supporters for Tom Barrett watch early election returns June 5, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by AFP
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It took over a year of bitter public fighting, and over 63 million dollars spent on campaigning ahead of the rare recall election, only for the residents of Wisconsin to get the same result they got in elections in 2010: the same governor, and the same lieutenant-governor.

With over 80 percent of the votes counted, first-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker (44) leads with 55% on his challenger, Democrat Tom Barrett (58), mayor of Milwaukee who got 44% of the vote.

Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall during his term in office. He angered Democrats and unions when he championed a law to severely restrict the collective bargaining of unionized state and local government
workers. Walker said the changes were necessary to close a large state budget deficit.

His victory will give a boost to Republicans nationwide as they gear up for the presidential election in November.

Republican primaries held Tuesday in five states - California, Montana, New Jersey, New-Mexico and South Dakota were hardly noticed, with all eyes on the race in Wisconsin, which gave a taste of clash between the two parties agendas ahead of the November elections.

The recall elections followed what was perceived by the state unions as an attempt to strip workers of their collective bargaining rights. But the campaign became a showcase for the Republican agenda of spending cuts - and most of the donations that Walker's campaign received poured in from outside the state.

The Republicans likely candidate for President Mitt Romney sent his message over even before Governor Walker had his victory speech, predicting that "tonight’s results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin."

"Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C.," Romney said in a statement.

Democrats chose a different tactic - stressing that Wisconsin polls still show strong support for president Obama, and therefore Tuesday's result in a battleground state cannot be seen as a harbinger of the November elections. President Obama decidedly distanced himself from the Wisconsin campaign, weighing in only by Twitter shortly before the public went to polling stations that he stands with the Democratic candidate, Mayor Barrett, in this race - with the White House spokesman Jay Carney explaining, that "the President is aware of the recall election" but "got some other responsibilities."