The Republicans argued the move was a necessary part of their efforts to cut Wisconsin’s estimated $3.6 billion budget shortfall. Democrats and union leaders accused them of overreaching.
On Tuesday, an overwhelming majority of Wisconsin voters concluded that the complaints against Walker were not enough reason to oust him midterm.
With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, Walker had nearly 54 percent of the vote, compared with 45 percent for Barrett, according to unofficial returns tabulated by The Associated Press.
"Voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough calls," Walker said in his victory speech, to chants of "Thank You Scott."
He also thanked people for their prayers, promised to meet soon with state lawmakers and urges residents to come together.
"Now is the time to move forward," he said. "Tomorrow we are Wisconsinites.... But bringing the state together will be tough. There's no doubt about it."
Barrett, who also lost to Walker in 2010, struck a similar note.
"To those of you who fought and stood out in the cold to obtain (petition) signatures to do what you thought was right, never stop doing what is right," he said. "Now we must look to the future."
Wisconsin went for President Obama in 2008, but the recall results give Republicans hope that their presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, can win there in November.
The outcome Tuesday is also a blow to the labor movement, which poured considerable resources into the failed effort to remove Walker.
Of the three recall elections of governors in U.S. history, only Walker has survived.
Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, also was projected to survive her recall election.
The recall effort started about a year and a half ago, after the legislature passed Walker’s proposal to curb public employee union power, while also requiring most public state workers to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits.
Democrats and unions argued the governor had gone too far, and they helped organize massive statehouse protests and gather 900,000 signatures for the recall vote.
Roughly $63 million was spent on the race, with much of Walker’s support coming from outside of the state.
The Republican Governors Association spent $1.5 million in a last-minute, get-out-the-vote effort. However, most voters seemed to have decided long before Election Day.
Democratic groups -- including those funded by unions, the Democratic Governors Association and the Democratic National Committee -- poured in about $14 million, based on a tally from the government watchdog group the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Barrett's $4.2 million in donations were mostly from inside Wisconsin.
The race attracted some big names on both sides. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared on behalf of Walker, while former President Bill Clinton came out for Barrett in the race's final days.
The impact of the vote is expected to carry into the November elections.
“I congratulate Scott Walker on his victory in Wisconsin,” Romney said.“Governor Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington.”
Though Romney visited the state with Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan earlier this year, President Obama did not travel to Wisconsin to campaign for Barrett, though he tweeted his support Monday night.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/05/po...