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Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pulled a big win in yesterday’s recall election beating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett by a 53-46 margin. I actually met the guy in 1997 when I briefly worked for another legislator in the Wisconsin Capitol. After Walker left a colleague said to me "he’s going to be governor someday." Boy was he right–and elected twice within less than two years. In 2010 Walker beat Barrett with only 52% of the vote. So he’s even more popular now. Some are even saying he’s now on the list to be Romney’s running mate. I doubt that. He’s got enough work to do in the Badger state.

The media have played this up as an attack on unions, but the question should have been framed as "how does the government reign in spending in tough economic times?" Walker answered by curbing collective bargaining rights of public employees, reigning in the state pension fund, and cutting government spending. His policy changes have had a positive impact on the economic climate which is now more favorable to new and existing businesses. In his victory speech, Walker said "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… the election is over, it’s time to move Wisconsin forward."

One of Barrett’s supporters slapped him in the face yesterday evening for conceding the race too early. Ouch.  But the public got a slap when earlier in the campaign Barrett explained that his views on gay marriage had "evolved."  Cheeseheads still believe in the timeless definition of marriage. In fact they amended their state constitution to protect it from redefinition. Social conservatives likely had something to do with Walker’s wider margin of victory. 

Many will complain that outspending Barrett by a margin of  7-1 was the reason. But Democrats from the state and around the nation were just as able to raise and spend money to influence the election as well. But they chose not to. In fact, the DNC was largely absent in this election. Why?  There is wailing and gnashing of teeth in the political left’s camp and plenty of blame doled out, but  Barrett needs to take responsibility. He railed against what Walker did but failed to come up with a reasonable solution to the debt crisis and the huge state pension obligations (sound familar to us in Kentucky?). In the end of this drawn out political battle,  Walker made a tough decision and the voters agreed.

Sixty-eight years ago today allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches. It was D-Day and the beginning of the end for Axis rule over Europe. Yesterday’s defeat at the polls could have been, in political terms, the democrats Dunkirk, signaling what may be ahead for President Barack Obama and his party in the November election.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center