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Walker Says Wisconsin Voters Have ‘Had It’ With Recalls

Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker predicted today that it will be “a long time” before his state faces a recurrence of the recall elections that divided voters and led to the ouster of two Republican state senators.

Walker, a 43-year-old Republican who may himself face a recall effort next year, said in an interview with Bloomberg News from his Milwaukee office that he expects someone to make an attempt to remove him, adding, “whether it’s successful, I don’t know.”

Two days after an unprecedented six recall elections that attracted tens of millions of dollars in advertising, mostly from outside the state, Walker said he expects the political mood in Wisconsin to calm down slowly, starting in the next few months. The public, he said, doesn’t want another round of campaign turmoil.

“After these recalls, my guess is it’ll be a long time -- again, regardless of party -- before at least a large number of people pursue recalls, because they’ve just had it,” Walker said. “They’ve had it with the ads.”

The return of political peace in Wisconsin is a matter of conjecture. Wisconsin’s Democratic chairman, Mike Tate, said yesterday he would like to see a recall of Walker soon, to sidetrack the first-term governor’s “extreme divisive agenda.” Democrats needed to remove three Republicans to gain control of the Senate and blunt Walker’s initiatives.

58 Percent Turnout

Voter turnout reached 58 percent in the district of Senator Alberta Darling, who survived the ouster attempt. Pro- and anti-recall groups spent an estimated $40 million on the campaigns, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

The recall effort was ignited in March when Walker used Republican legislative majorities to restrict collective bargaining for most public employees.

Walker talked of bipartisan cooperation today, saying it’s time to “move forward” and concentrate on improving the state’s economy and job climate. He said he sees no need to prepare for further budget cuts even with the slowdown of the economy.

Looking back on the recalls and the collective-bargaining curbs that provoked them, Walker said that if he had anything to do over again, he would have “spent more time” explaining the need for the changes to the public.

‘Words Ring Hollow’

Walker said he approaches problems as a small-business owner would. “Here’s a problem. Here’s a solution. Now go out and do it,” Walker said. “I’ve got a clear agenda and I try to get it done.”

That approach, said Democratic Assemblyman Peter Barca, calls into question Walker’s pleas for bipartisanship.

“We’ve heard that rhetoric before, and unfortunately the actions don’t match the rhetoric,” Barca, the Assembly’s minority leader, said in a telephone interview.

“We welcome the goal, but we’ve seen no evidence that they’re interested in doing this,” Barca added. “His words ring hollow.”

Walker said he didn’t overreach when pushing the collective-bargaining changes. They were a necessary part of his effort to cut costs and balance the budget without raising taxes, he said.

Two recall elections against Democratic Senators Jim Holperin and Robert Wirch are scheduled Aug. 16. The outcome won’t change control of the Senate, where Republicans hold a 17-to-16 advantage.

Toward year-end, Walker predicted, “things will quiet down.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Timothy Jones in Chicago at tjones58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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