- Last Updated: 5:36 AM, June 5, 2012
- Posted: 1:41 AM, June 5, 2012
MILWAUKEE — All eyes are on Wisconsin, where today’s recall election against embattled Gov. Scott Walker has turned into the No. 2 political nail-biter of the year — behind only the presidential campaign.
Walker, a Republican, is only the third governor in US history to be subject to a recall election. The vote was prompted by his aggressive attempts to control state costs by taking on powerful public-employee unions.
The race against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat, is expected to generate the largest turnout for a gubernatorial election in the state’s history, with 65 percent of voters projected to cast ballots.
Walker, who defeated Barrett in the 2010 gubernatorial race, rammed a law through the Republican-led Legislature last year to roll back collective-bargaining rights for public-employee unions.
The move enraged labor leaders and union workers and spurred the recall movement.
On the campaign trail yesterday, Walker said his re-election would represent a “victory for courage, not only for us but across the country.”
“We put the hardworking taxpayers in charge,” he said.
Walker barnstormed through six campaign stops, including a Green Bay distillery and a late-night rally in Milwaukee.
He said the unions hated that he ended their stranglehold on the treasury. But he touted a boost of 30,000 jobs in Wisconsin as vindication for his tightfisted economic policies.
For Barrett to have a chance to pull off an upset, he needs a big turnout in his home base of Milwaukee. And that’s where the unions and other Barrett allies have focused their attention.
National teachers-union boss Randi Weingarten and other labor activists said they wanted to teach Walker a lesson.
“There’s a big difference between tough bargaining and eliminating people’s voice and rights. He eliminated people’s access to power. He’s a union buster,” Weingarten said during a rally in Milwaukee.
President Obama, who decided not to personally campaign for Barrett, tweeted last night, “I’m standing by Tom Barrett. He’d make an outstanding governor.”