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Mayor Barrett To Face Gov. Walker In Recall Election


In Wisconsin, the preliminary round is over, and it is on to the main event in the bitter battle to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett won Tuesday's Democratic primary, and so Governor Walker will be fighting to keep his job against the same opponent he beat in 2010.

NPR's David Schaper reports.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: Wisconsin has had 15 months of political warfare in the wake of Republican Governor Scott Walker's law stripping public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. For the first time Tuesday, the sharply divided Wisconsin electorate got to let Walker know how they feel. And even laryngitis couldn't stop Cindy Lancelle of the Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay.

CINDY LANCELLE: I'm so happy to vote for Walker, and it's just a shame that our state has spent so much money on this incredible, ridiculous recall. It's such a waste of money.

SCHAPER: And Peg Tagliavia of Milwaukee is just as eager to vote against Scott Walker.

PEG TAGLIAVIA: Well, in my opinion, I think he's been worse than divisive.

SCHAPER: Tagliavia voted for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday's Democratic primary for governor, which Barrett easily won.



MAYOR TOM BARRETT: Hello, Wisconsin. Hello, Wisconsin.

SCHAPER: Barrett defeated three other Democrats, including former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk, who had the support of most of the public employee unions that were instrumental in forcing this recall election. But union leaders, Falk and Barrett himself all say they're now united in working to recall Walker on June 5th.


BARRETT: We will be united, because we understand, as all of you do, that we cannot fix Wisconsin as long as Scott Walker is the governor of this state.



BARRETT: And as the governor of this state, I will end Scott Walker's ideological civil war. That's why I'm running for governor.

SCHAPER: For his part, Governor Walker stands ready for this rematch against Barrett. After coasting to victory in his own primary, Walker made no apologies for the changes he's undertaken, and he says the recall presents Wisconsin voters with a clear choice.


GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: Do we go backwards, or do we go forwards? Do we go back to the days of double-digit tax increases, of billion-dollar budget deficits, of record job losses? Or do we take the positive foundation that we built together to move Wisconsin forward?

SCHAPER: And in a preview of what's to come, Walker's campaign issued a statement attacking Barrett's record as Milwaukee's mayor. With tens of millions of dollars flowing into the state from superPACs and special interests on both sides, Wisconsin voters can expect a barrage of similar attacks and much worse over the next 27 days. David Schaper, NPR News, Milwaukee. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Schaper is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, based in Chicago, primarily covering transportation and infrastructure, as well as breaking news in Chicago and the Midwest.