MILWAUKEE — Gov. Scott Walker and his opponent, Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee, raced through a final day of campaigning Monday, stopping in seemingly every region of the state as Wisconsin braced for an election day unlike any it has seen.
Among the oddities of the vote here today: Walker, a Republican elected less than two years ago, is the state's first governor (and only the third in the nation) to find himself fighting for his job in a recall election.
The election is also a rematch of the 2010 governor's race in which Walker defeated Barrett by 5 percentage points.
Even before the candidates crisscrossed the state Monday, this had been a campaign in dizzying, fast-forward mode. Under state rules, Barrett did not become the Democratic nominee until last month, when he won a contested primary. More than $60 million has been spent in this battle.
"Regardless of who wins, I hope this all stops," said Wendy Dobrzynski, who cast her ballot days ago for Walker at a center for early voting in Milwaukee.
She said her own family was divided over Walker's decision last year to strip collective bargaining rights from most public workers. "This fight needs to finally be done, over," Dobrzynski said.
Sixty percent to 65 percent of Wisconsin residents of voting age are expected to go to the polls, the state's Government Accountability Board said. That would be a higher turnout than two years ago, when Walker and a wave of Republicans largely swept state and federal offices here, but not as high as the more than 69 percent turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama easily won the state.
The Walker recall race has drawn a great deal of notice outside the state because of its potential implications for the future of unions and efforts in other states to limit collective bargaining — as well as for Obama's chances of winning this key state in November. But there are other races here today, too.
By filing signatures on recall petitions, Democrats, union supporters and others also forced recall elections of Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and four Republican state senators. Republicans control the state Assembly, but the Democrats hope to regain control of the state Senate, which is split with 16 Democrats and 16 Republicans, thanks in part to the resignation of a Republican recently.