First-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker has survived the Wisconsin recall election, defeating his Democratic challenger, 58-year-old Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
With 94 percent of the expected vote in, the 44-year-old Walker led Barrett 54 percent to 45 percent. Barrett conceded the special recall election late Tuesday night.
Walker became the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall election.
Perhaps most famously, California held a special election in 2003 in which multi-term Gov. Gray Davis was recalled and deposed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"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 said, adding, "the election is over, it's time to move Wisconsin forward."
Walker said that while "bringing our state together will take some time, no doubt about it," he believes "there is more that unites us than divides us." The Wisconsin governor said he planed to hold a meeting with the entire state legislature next week.
The recall fight, prompted by Walker's decision to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights, was seen as a national barometer by many.Because of Walker's uncompromisingly bold initiatives to close a record $3.6 billion budget deficit, many saw it as a litmus test to see if Republicans can push through spending cuts, confront organized labor - and live to tell about it.
Walker didn't do so easily - hundreds of thousands of people petitioned for a special recall election to potentially oust him from office not even two years after he was voted in - but survive he ultimately did.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said:
"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."
"Tonight's results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin."
The Romney campaign said the former Massachusetts governor called Walker to congratulate him on his victory late Tuesday evening.
Walker defeated Barrett by nearly six points in the 2010 Wisconsin gubernatorial race, and it looks like he will equal or surpass that margin this time around.