Barrett blasted the early release of the information, saying Walker was setting a new precedent 20 days before an election by publicizing numbers that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics had not publicly signed off on. He noted that even using Walker's comparatively rosy numbers, Wisconsin performed the worst of Midwestern states.
Even with the win, Walker will continue to face challenges. Three of his aides from when he was Milwaukee County executive have been charged, as has an appointee and major donor. The secret John Doe investigation, led by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, continues. Walker has put $160,000 into a legal-defense fund but has said he does not believe he is a target of the probe.
Barrett tried to use the investigation as a campaign issue, raising it in daily news conference and campaign stops and blanketing the airwaves with ads about it. But the probe didn't give him enough votes to oust Walker.
Barrett has now lost three races for governor -- first in 2002, when he came in second in the Democratic primary, then in 2010 when he lost to Walker, and Tuesday when he again lost to Walker. The defeat likely means Barrett, a former congressman, has little hope of running for statewide office again, though he has a full term as mayor ahead of him after winning re-election in April.
Democrats had urged candidates with a better track record in statewide races -- such as U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl or former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold -- would get in the race, but they declined to do so.
Public-sector labor leaders tried to keep Barrett out of the race and spent about $4 million in an effort to help former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk beat him in the Democratic primary. After Barrett won, the unions turned their attention to helping him with ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Barrett had said he would have called a special legislative session to restore collective bargaining, but that would have proved difficult because of the large Republican majority in the state Assembly. With Walker remaining as governor, efforts to pass pro-labor legislation will be virtually impossible.
The campaign was by far the most expensive in the state's history. Walker raised more than $30 million since January 2011, with the majority of it coming from out of state. That was more than seven times as much as the $3.9 million Barrett raised since joining the race March 30. Walker was able to raise so much because of his national profile and a provision of state law that lifts the normal donation limits for certain expenses during recalls.
Two donors gave him $500,000, and more than a dozen others gave him $100,000 or more. Barrett had to abide by the normal limits.
Holding the election itself was expected to cost taxpayers up to $9 million. The May primary was estimated to cost the same amount, for a total of up to $18 million.
Tuesday's election marked the second round of recalls in Wisconsin in less than a year. Last summer, nine state senators -- six Republicans and three Democrats -- faced recall elections, and Democrats gained two seats in those contests. That put them just shy of running the Senate.
Bill Glauber in Waukesha, Alison Bauter in Madison and Georgia Pabst in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
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