Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) survived a furious recall campaign on Tuesday, emerging as the victor in a bitter fight over state budgets and collective bargaining rights.
NBC News declared Walker the projected winner over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, in the closely-watched campaign, an outgrowth of a contentious fight in early 2011 after Walker drove a bill stripping public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights through Wisconsin's legislature.
Barrett conceded at about 11:12 p.m. EDT after saying he wouldn't concede as long as overflow voting continued in Milwaukee, Madison and Racine.
NBC News also declared Rebecca Kleefisch (R) as the projected winner in the lieutenant governor's race.
Walker told the AP the win "feels good," and that he wants to bring people together.
The outcome in Wisconsin was a bitter disappointments to Democrats and labor groups that had vowed to seek the Republican governor's ouster over the collective bargaining law. Tens of millions of dollars flowed into the state both in support and opposition of Walker, reflecting the high stakes in the race.
The news was not all bad for progressives.
With a third wave of exit poll data in, Wisconsin recall voters said they would pick President Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by a 53-42 percent margin in Wisconsin.
Still, Romney congratulated Walker tonight, saying he "has shown that citizens and taxpayers can fight back - and prevail - against the runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses."