Wisconsin's governor Scott Walker survived a bitterly fought recall election on Tuesday after Republican voters mobilised in huge numbers, propelling him to a victory that will boost Mitt Romney's run for the White House.
Television networks called it for the incumbent at 11pm local time after early returns from rural counties gave him an apparently unassailable lead even as voters were still queuing to cast ballots at polling stations in Milwaukee, a Democratic stronghold.
It was a devastating defeat for Democrats and union activists who had waged an 18-month campaign to oust Walker over his restrictions on collective bargaining and cutbacks of pension and health benefits of public sector workers.
Romney issued a swift statement saying the result would "echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin" by showing Republicans could stand up to "runaway government costs imposed by labor bosses" and demonstrated "what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around".
With almost two thirds of precincts reporting, Walker led by 57% to 42% against his challenger, Tom Barrett, according to early returns tabulated by AP. Barrett said he had telephoned Walker to concede the race.
The vote was widely seen as a referendum not just on Walker but Tea Party-tinged conservatism. The movement will now claim vindication and try to build on the momentum.
A silver lining for President Barack Obama came in the form of exit polls that gave him a 52-43 lead over Romney, suggesting Wisconsin, a swing state which he won in 2008, would remain loyal come November.
Read more at the Guardian...