MADISON, Wis. — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won the Democratic primary Tuesday in Wisconsin's historic recall election, emerging from a field of three Democrats to face Republican Gov. Scott Walker next month.
Barrett's win sets up a June 5 rematch of the 2010 governor's race in what will be the culmination of an effort to oust the first-term Republican that officially began more than six months ago.
The recall, triggered by the collection of more than 900,000 petition signatures, was spurred by anger over Walker's proposal passed last year taking collective bargaining rights from public workers.
Barrett, who gained national attention in 2009 when he intervened in an attack at the state fair, had 54 percent of the vote in preliminary results, with 32 percent of precincts reporting.
Walker easily defeated Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a Walker opponent running as a Republican.
The June 5 recall is one of the most closely watched elections in the nation outside of the presidential race. Walker has tapped his status as a national conservative rock star to raise $25 million so far, most of it from out of state, shattering fundraising records he set during the 2010 race.
Walker has embodied the Republican rise to power in 2010 and hopes to avoid becoming just the third governor to be recalled in U.S. history.
Barrett, 58, has been mayor of Milwaukee since 2004. He's popular in Wisconsin's largest, and mostly Democratic, city. He won re-election in April with 70 percent of the vote. Walker beat him by 5 percentage points, or about 125,000 votes, in November 2010. Barrett also ran for governor in 2002 but lost in the Democratic primary.
Barrett previously served eight years in the state Legislature and 10 years in Congress.