Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived the recall election on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Tom Barrett.
The governor beat Milwaukee Mayor Barrett by 7 percentage points -- a larger margin than when the two met in the 2010 gubernatorial race. The race was called much earlier in the night than many political experts had predicted, WISC-TV reported.
Speaking to supporters in the Waukesha County Expo Center in Waukesha on Tuesday night, Walker said his victory means voters want leaders who "stand up and make tough decisions."
"When there have been leaders of courage, what has sustained them is there were good and decent people who stood with them shoulder to shoulder, and arm to arm. That's what you have done for Wisconsin," Walker said.
Walker said Tuesday that, "it's time to put our differences aside and find ways to work together to move Wisconsin forward."
During his remarks, the crowd erupted into chants of "Thank you, Scott!"
Walker is the first governor in U.S. history to stay in office after a recall challenge.
Barrett said he conceded in a phone call to Walker just after 10 p.m. Speaking to his supporters in downtown Milwaukee, he asked his supporters to remain engaged.
"This is not an end tonight. This is the end of another chapter in Wisconsin history," he said.
Barrett also asked members of both parties to listen to each and do what's best for the people of the state of Wisconsin.
For some of Barrett's supporters at the Milwaukee Hilton, their candidate's concession was more than painful news. Supporters did eventually clap for Barrett and cheer his message of unity, but some remained displeased that he'd conceded the race with Milwaukee residents still in line to vote.
One woman slapped the mayor after he left the stage. She wasn't arrested but was escorted away.
Barrett carried a few counties, including Dane County by 69 percent to Walker's 31 percent and Milwaukee by 63 percent to the governor's 36 percent. He also took Menominee, Douglas and Ashland counties.
In his first interview since beating back a recall challenge, Walker told The Associated Press that the victory "feels good."
Walker said he plans to meet with his cabinet Wednesday. He also wants to invite members of the Legislature to gather over burgers and brats as soon as next week to talk about ways to bridge the political divide that has gripped the state for more than a year.
The Republican governor rose to national prominence last year after taking on public-sector unions shortly after being sworn in. That fight also triggered the recall and set up a rematch with Barrett, who was defeated by Walker in 2010.
Walker argued his policies were necessary to confront the state's budget problems.
The loss is a blow to Democrats and to unions that spent millions to oust Walker.
Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.