Portage, Columbia County voters lift Evers, Baldwin in big turnout

Portage, Columbia County voters lift Evers, Baldwin in big turnout

Scott Walker loses bid for third term in Wisconsin

PEWAUKEE, Wis. — Scott Walker, who moved Wisconsin to the right over the last eight years, cutting taxes and sharply diminishing the power of labor unions, conceded the governors race on Wednesday to the Democrat, Tony Evers, the state schools superintendent.

The advantage for Mr. Evers was razor thin, a little over 1 percentage point. With more than 2.6 million votes cast and 100 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Evers led by about 30,000 votes.

For hours overnight, Mr. Walker said the campaign was waiting for more information before deciding how to proceed. But on Wednesday afternoon, the campaign said that Mr. Walker had called Mr. Evers and that any additional counting of votes would not be enough to change the outcome. The Wisconsin Elections Commission said that the race was outside the margin to qualify for a recount.

Two years ago, Donald Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984 to carry Wisconsin. During his tenure, Walker helped strengthen the state GOP, expanding the state legislative majority and flipping two blue congressional districts red.

Weve come a long way together and it is my sincere hope that the progress weve made during our time in office will continue and that we can keep Wisconsin working for generations to come, Mr. Walker said in a statement.

The Latest: Turnout in Wisconsin midterm breaks record

The win by Mr. Evers buoyed the hopes of Democrats in a long-divided state for a resounding return after 2016, when Wisconsin surprised many by helping secure the presidency for Donald J. Trump. This years Wisconsin race has been viewed as a crucial test of partisan control in the Midwest, where governors offices and state legislatures, including Wisconsins, have been dominated by Republicans.

Walker, who unsuccessfully sought the presidency as a Republican in 2016, went into the race with a strong state economy, a national profile and a streak of three consecutive electoral victories under his belt.

[See the results for the Wisconsin governors race and for other states elections for governor.]

Mr. Evers, 67, won amid signs of rising Democratic energy in several special elections in the state earlier in the year and despite a fierce fight for a third term by Mr. Walker, a Republican whose formidable political and organizational skills had showed him tied with Mr. Evers in polling before the election. The outcome was a blow to Wisconsin Republicans, who have for the last eight years largely dominated the State Capitol and remade policies from taxes to requirements to vote, but now face a changed landscape.

He isnt the only man who studied at an Alabama HBCU who made history during this election. Dany Carr, a Miles College graduate from the Birmingham neighborhood of Ensley, became the first African American to be elected to the district attorney job for the Birmingham division of Jefferson County.

Democrats also held on to a Senate seat, securing the two top posts that they had aimed for. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat, was re-elected, easily holding off a challenge from Leah Vukmir, a state legislator.

Wisconsin was once seen as mostly blue but has often flipped back and forth, and over eight years of Republican dominance in Madison, the state has veered toward conservative policies.

Mandela, a 31-year-old Milwaukee native, graduated from Alabama A&M in 2008. He won the Democratic primary for the seat in August with 68 percent of the vote.

Mr. Walker, 51, a former county executive with reliable allies in the Legislature from his years as a member, upended the state within weeks of arriving in office in 2011 with what became his defining move: He called for cuts to collective bargaining rights for most public workers. The effort drew thousands of labor unions to protest in the streets around the State Capitol, and it made Mr. Walker — at the time little known outside the state — a national name. The fight over labor unions also led to calls for his removal, but Mr. Walker survived a recall election. The issue, and the attention, later helped propel a presidential run that quickly fizzled.

I am Mandela Barnes, running to be Wisconsin's lieutenant governor. This is who I am. pic.twitter.com/4LxXPdEAC9

Under Mr. Walker, Republican leaders went on to cut taxes, approve a voter ID rule, expand school vouchers, make Wisconsin a right-to-work state and allow concealed weapons. The state agreed to provide $3 billion in tax credits so that Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics company, could build a campus in southeast Wisconsin.

In a state that has, over time, swung between progressivism and conservatism, the race between Mr. Walker and Mr. Evers became a struggle to define — or redefine — the states political identity.

Before 2016, no Republican had won Wisconsin in a presidential race since 1984. So Mr. Trumps win here two years ago, by 22,700 votes, set off a reckoning among Democrats, many of whom still thought of the state as the home of Robert M. La Follette, the famed progressive leader, and Gaylord A. Nelson, the founder of Earth Day.

Democrat Tony Evers narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, thanks largely to massive turnout in Democratic strongholds of Dane and Milwaukee counties. Walker also underperformed in key Republican areas, like the suburban Milwaukee counties.

Through 2018, there were concrete signs of surprising levels of Democratic energy around the state. Voters chose a liberal candidate to fill a State Supreme Court seat, and elected Democrats in special elections to two state legislative seats that had long been held by Republicans.

For months, as polls showed an extremely tight governors race, Mr. Walker himself was perhaps the loudest voice of worry about a blue wave, and he campaigned frenetically, making multiple swings across the state in the final days.

Walker narrowly lost to Democrat Tony Evers in Tuesday’s election. While Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch vowed there would be a recount, and his campaign spokesman raised concerns about damaged ballots, Walker has not been heard from.

Along the campaign trail, Mr. Walker was firmly focused on the states economic gains. Wisconsins unemployment rate, around 3 percent, is below the national average and wage growth has been picking up.

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch urges Republicans early Wednesday not to give up hope on the governors race. Moments later, it was called for Democrat Tony Evers.

He implored crowds to let him finish the job and grow the states work force over the next four years. We cant afford to turn around now, Mr. Walker he said.

But Mr. Evers, a teacher and principal before he became the states superintendent of public instruction, defined his pitch as a desperately needed antidote for Wisconsin after eight years under the Walker administration. He said that so many years of conservative policies had starved the states school system of needed funds, left roads to decay, destroyed environmental protections, and that Mr. Walker was threatening the health care coverage of Wisconsin residents.

Mr. Evers, who is relatively well known in the state, had won a crowded Democratic primary in August. Some Democrats had worried that he was too bland, too normal — not dynamic enough to contend with Mr. Walker. But others said he was just what voters needed: a steady, reliable opponent who might not turn much attention to himself but would keep people firmly focused on Mr. Walker — and Mr. Walkers legacy in Wisconsin.

In a final debate between the two, Mr. Evers described Mr. Walkers years in charge of the state in blunt terms: We have bad roads. We have a struggling school system thats been politicized. And frankly, we have a health care system thats under attack.

(CNN)Democrat Tony Evers will oust Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office, CNN can project, denying the Republican a third term and accomplishing something Democrats have long looked to achieve.

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