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Governor-Elect Walker smiles at his victory party in Pewaukee Tuesday night. Walker became the first non-incumbent Republican to win in Wisconsin since Tommy Thompson was first elected in 1988, and will face a myriad of fiscal and social issues in his four years in the state’s highest office.[/media-credit]

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Scott Walker claims Wisconsin governorship in Pewaukee

The 2010 midterm elections clearly reflected national frustration with the Democratic party, and Wisconsin did not break from that trend.

Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is now the Republican governor-elect of Wisconsin, having won 52.3 percent of the vote and beating Democratic challenger and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who won 46.6 percent of the vote.

Walker’s victory party was held at the Country Springs Hotel in Pewaukee, Wis., within one of the state’s most Republican voting counties. In his victory speech, Walker began by thanking God “for his abundant grace for all of us, no matter whom we voted for.” He told the crowd of hundreds of supporters he will work with challenger Barrett to reform the state.

Walker also reached out to those who voted against him.

“We all live in Wisconsin together, and we’re going to move this state forward together,” Walker said. “Wisconsin’s best days are yet to come.”

After Walker’s speech, he greeted members of the crowd amid a flurry of confetti while “It’s America” by singer Rodney Atkins played. Many supporters enthusiastically waved goodbye and cheered as Wisconsin’s longtime Democratic Senator Russ Feingold was seen making his concession speech on the projection screen. Feingold finished saying, “It is on to our next adventure, forward,” as the Walker supporters heard the lyrics, “over some fallen hero’s grave.”

PEWAUKEE – In terms of great birthday presents, winning Wisconsin’s governorship probably topped everything else the now 43-year-old Republican Scott Walker received for gifts this year.

Walker, the current Milwaukee County Executive, defeated his Democratic opponent Tom Barrett by 5 percent of the vote, slightly less than the victory margin indicated by the majority of pre-election polls.

Several hundred supporters gathered the Country Springs Hotel for Walker’s election night party and sang “Happy Birthday” to their governor-elect as campaign staffers presented him with a patriotic-themed cake.

“I’ll never be able to throw [Scott] such a party again,” Walker’s wife Tonette joked while speaking on stage with children Matt and Alex beside her.

Following Barrett’s concession announcement, Walker took the stage to outline the economic development plans he intends to carry out as soon as he is sworn in as governor in January.

“Tonight, I want to tell every worker, every family and every business big or small in the state that you have an ally in the governor’s office,” Walker said.

He said he will call an emergency session of the state Legislature in order to pass legislation to help the state’s dire economic and employment situation.

Walker touted his ideas for incentives, including a two-year tax freeze on corporations moving into the state and small business tax cuts. His goal is to create 250,000 new jobs and 10,000 new businesses in the state by the end of his first term in 2015.

He said this goal is not unreasonable, as former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson was able to accomplish similar goals during one of his four terms in office.

“I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: times of great challenges bring times of great opportunities if we’re up to the challenge, and we’re up to the challenge here in Wisconsin,” Walker said.

Walker also highlighted his intentions to work with both Republicans and Democrats – including Barrett – to help get the state back on track.

“I was just on the phone with Mayor Tom Barrett,” Walker said. “We made a pledge that we’re going to work together because we both care deeply for the state…and we’re going to work to make sure Wisconsin works again.”

To Barrett’s supporters, Walker extended his promise to be governor of the entire state, not just those who voted for him.

Walker also praised his new lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, calling her a great “ambassador” for the state’s small businesses.

Kleefisch, who joined the Walker family on stage with her husband Joel and daughters Ella and Violet, praised Walker’s plans for the state.

“Under [Walker’s] leadership, we will restore Wisconsin to prosperity and tell the world that Wisconsin is open for business again,” Kleefisch said.

Along with his wife’s victory, Joel had his own cause for celebration: he was re-elected to his seat in the state Assembly.

Other prominent Republicans who attended the event include freshly-reelected U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, state Rep. Robin Vos of Racine, state Sen. Ted Kanavas of Brookfield and state Republican Party Chair Reince Priebus.

“This is a new day in Wisconsin politics,” Priebus said in an interview with The Badger Herald. “The people are ready to take back their state.”

As the results for statewide and national elections were coming in, Priebus referenced how a previous Time magazine cover featured the Republican elephant symbol and the phrase “endangered species.”

“How do you like us now”? Priebus said emphatically to the enthusiastic crowd.

Vos shared Priebus’ excitement and called the turnout for Walker and other Republicans indicative of people’s desire for change from the current Democratic policies.

This race marks Walker’s second run for the governor’s office: he made his first attempt in the 2006 Republican primary but bowed out to support fellow candidate and former Congressman Mark Green, who lost in the general election to Doyle.

Besides his service as Milwaukee County executive, Walker’s political credentials also include nearly 10 years spent in the state Assembly.