Republican Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin defeated his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, in the state's recall election last night. Walker's win is a serious loss for big labor, and for Democrats, too. It also means that Wisconsin could become a crucial battleground state come the presidential election in November.
Now, Walker becomes the first U.S. governor to survive a recall. North Dakota kicked out its governor, Lynn Frazier. That was back in 1921. California removed Gray Davis in 2003.
Last night, Walker's victory speech delivered a message not only to Wisconsin but also to the nation.
"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," Walker says.
However the moment of the night came from the Barrett camp, when a supporter literally slapped the mayor across the face because he conceded before all the voters even finished going to the polls.
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Wis.) spoke at Barrett's concession speech and says though Republicans may be ready for a victory lap, in fact the recall's implications for November are far from clear.
"Feelings in Wisconsin for the past year and a half have been very, very strongly passionate on both sides," Erpenbach says. "Emotions tend to run high in situations like that. Obviously, it was a tough night for Democrats. But at the same time, Wisconsin Democrats in the state senate picked up a seat, so we have control in the state senate. So it's mixed messages last night. But there's no doubt, Soledad, the passion is very, very strong in Wisconsin on either side."