Wisconsin Recall Election: Scott Walker vs. Tom Barrett Showdown Looming

Governor Scott Walker and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett were the big winners earlier this week in Wisconsin’s primary recall election.

Incumbent Walker continues to be an extremely polarizing figure in Wisconsin. His attacks on collective bargaining rights led to massive protests around the state last year that culminated in a recall effort. However, Walker also has a large and enthusiastic base of supporters who showed up in astoundingly high numbers in the recall primary election on Tuesday. Passions on both sides remain high.

Democratic candidate Barrett defeated opponent and union darling Kathleen Falk by a resounding 24-point margin statewide. Barrett won 56 out of 72 counties, including Milwaukee County and Dane County, which are key bases. Even in Dane county, where Falk served as county executive for 14 years, she only garnered 31 percent of the votes to Barrett’s 61 percent.

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Walker supporters turned out in incredibly high numbers for an uncompetitive GOP primary. Walker garnered only slightly less votes than all the Democratic candidates combined, demonstrating his masterly ability to mobilize Republicans.

Labor leaders spent heavily to elect Falk, but avoided damaging attacks on Barrett. In the end, Democrats avoided damaging division within their party and rallied around him.

Both Republicans and Democrats have proven they are energized, but the results of the recall election June 5 largely depend on who is better at mobilizing their supporters. Summer will be starting, students will be out of school, and families will be away on vacation. This election has given both candidates momentum which they mustn’t let drop before June.


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Julie Strupp

Julie Strupp is a freelance writer based in Washington, DC. She's worked for a variety of publications including the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and AllAfrica, and typically writes about social issues, solutions, and politics from the local to the international. You can reach her on Twitter at @struppj or at juliestrupp.com

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