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Walker survives recall

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall challenge Tuesday, winning both the right to finish his term and a voter endorsement of his strategy to curb state spending, which included the explosive measure that eliminated union rights for most public workers.

The rising Republican star becomes the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall attempt with his defeat of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the union leaders who rallied for months against his agenda.

With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Walker was ahead 57 percent to Barrett's 42 percent, according to early returns tabulated by The Associated Press.

Barrett conceded to Walker and addressed supporters in Milwaukee thanking them for their dedication to his campaign.

Barrett said Wisconsin is deeply divided, and it's up to both Republicans and Democrats to listen to one another.

Democrats and organized labor spent millions to oust Walker, but found themselves hopelessly outspent by Republicans from across the country who donated record-setting sums to Walker. Republicans hope the victory carries over into November and that their get-out-the-vote effort can help Mitt Romney become the first GOP nominee to carry the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The recall was a rematch of the 2010 governor's race. Throughout the campaign, Walker maintained his policies set the state on the right economic track. Defeat, he said, would keep other politicians from undertaking such bold moves in the future.