-By Bob Secter and Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune
June 5, 2012- MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin’s fierce and emotional recall battle for governor appeared headed for a possible photo finish Tuesday as voters swarmed the polls after Republicans and Democrats warned turnout would be crucial.
“I think we're having presidential turnout,” said Kenosha County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs as she watched voters flood the polls to choose between retaining Republican Scott Walker as governor or replacing him with Democrat Tom Barrett.
Across the state, election officials reported long lines at the polls, bringing to a close a race that transformed Wisconsin into a symbol of political polarization just months before a sharply divided national electorate votes for president.
This was only the third time in U.S. history that any state has voted on whether to recall its governor. Tuesday’s battle was effectively a redo of the 2010 race for governor between Walker and Barrett, which Walker won by 5 percentage points.
The recall was an outgrowth of political turmoil that erupted within weeks of Walker taking office as he teamed up with a Republican-controlled legislature to close a budget deficit by steep cuts in spending, including money for schools. At the same time, they extended tax breaks for businesses.
Even more significant were moves to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights, something Walker said was vital to give public officials flexibility to cut costs and save money for taxpayers.
The unions viewed that as an attempt to destroy them as punishment for throwing political support to Democrats.
The battle was joined and by January a union-inspired recall drive had collected more than 900,000 signatures.