Scott Walker has won a second term as governor of Wisconsin, various media outlets project. The win could potentially position the conservative favorite for a run at the presidency in 2016.
This marks the second failed try by Democrats to defeat Walker, coming after a June 2012 recall attempt. This time around, Democrats nominated Mary Burke, a former executive at Trek Bicycle. The race looked close in the fall, but Walker began to pull away in many polls at the end of October.
Walker was one of many Republicans elected nationwide during the 2010 Tea Party wave, and his particular race drew little nationwide attention. Yet shortly after he was sworn in, Walker announced a far-reaching proposal to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees.
Unions mobilized in protest, and the issue got nationwide attention. But the legislature passed Walker's bill and signed it into law. After legal challenges, the state Supreme Court upheld the new law.
A yearlong war between Walker and the state's unions, involving a series of recall attempts against state senators, state Supreme Court justices, and Walker himself, ensued. Yet Walker's coalition withstood all the challenges — the state Senate and Supreme Court stayed in conservative hands, and Walker himself beat back the recall challenge handily. (An investigation into the activities of Walker's aides during the various recalls soon began, though.)
Walker has impressed many conservative elites and activists during his years of combat with liberals and unions, and they've spent big and worked hard on his behalf. Now, it will be interesting to see whether Walker can parlay that support into a candidacy for president.