first_imgWisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker reacts at his victory party Tuesday in Waukesha, Wis. Walker defeated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett in a special recall election. MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall challenge Tuesday, winning both the right to finish his term and a voter endorsement of his strategy to curb state spending, which included the explosive measure that eliminated union rights for most public workers.The rising Republican star becomes the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt with his defeat of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the union leaders who rallied for months against his agenda.In an interview, Walker said it was time “to put our differences aside and find ways to work together to move Wisconsin forward.”The governor said he planned to invite lawmakers to meet as soon as next week over burgers and brats to discuss ways to bridge the political divide.With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting, Walker was ahead 57 percent to 42 percent for Barrett, according to early returns tabulated by The Associated Press.A Barrett spokesman said the campaign was not conceding, citing ongoing voting in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine.Democrats and organized labor spent millions to oust Walker, but found themselves hopelessly outspent by Republicans from across the country who donated record-setting sums to Walker. Republicans hope the victory carries over into November and that their get-out-the-vote effort can help Mitt Romney become the first GOP nominee to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.Romney issued a statement saying Walker’s victory “will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin.”Walker “has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back — and prevail — against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses,” Romney said. “Tonight, voters said no to the tired, liberal ideas of yesterday, and yes to fiscal responsibility and a new direction.”last_img