MADISON, Wis. - Polls opened on Tuesday morning as voters will finally decide the direction of the state in Wisconsin's historic recall election.
The battle over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's
agenda has attracted millions of dollars from out of state, campaign volunteers from across the country and months of concentrated attention from the two major political parties.
But on Tuesday, the only voices that matter will be those of voters
deciding whether to keep Walker or fire him and hand his job to the
Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
After an intense year in the national spotlight, both sides are preparing for a razor-thin margin.
Polls show Walker with a small lead over Democrat Tom Barrett.
It's a rematch of the 2010 governor's race in which Walker defeated Barrett by 5 percentage points.
The Government Accountability Board predicts voter turnout will be between 60 and 65 percent on Tuesday. This means up to 2.8 million people will cast ballots in the recall race.
The recall effort has shattered state campaign spending records and further divided an already polarized state.
Walker said he's focused on turning out voters who have supported him in taking on public-employee unions. Barrett is seeking to capitalize on the anger over Walker's conservative agenda that began building almost as soon as he took office in January 2011.
Democrats and other Walker opponents pushed the recall for several Republican legislators after the Legislature approved the controversial law stripping most public workers of nearly all their collective bargaining rights. They hoped the recalls would lead to a switch in leadership in the state Capitol.
Besides Walker, five other Republican lawmakers are also facing a recall. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has also been targeted for recall along with four GOP state senators.
In state Senate district 13, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald faces Democrat Lori Compas. Compas started the recall effort against Fitzgerald after the collective bargaining bill was passed.
For the Senate District 23 in the western part of the state, Sen. Terry Moulton, of Chippewa Falls, is fighting for his job after serving since last year. He faces Democrat Kristen Dexter of Eau Claire.
In Senate District 21, Sen. Van Wanggaard of Racine will defend his seat against Democrat challenger John Lehman, who he beat to get elected to the Senate in 2010. Lehman had served in that seat since 2007.
In Senate District 29, located around Wausau, features two lawmakers facing off. State Sen. Pam Galloway stepped down from her seat this spring. As a result, Republican state Rep. Jerry Petroski is running against Democrat Donna Seidel for the job.
Walker is only the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall vote. The other two lost, most recently California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.
Polls close at 8 p.m. across Wisconsin.
Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.
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