Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett supporters watch early election returns on June 5, 2012 in Milwaukee. According to early results, Gov. Scott Walker defeated Barrett in a recall election. Opponents of Walker forced a recall election after the governor pushed to change the collective bargaining process for public employees in the state.
Credit: Andy Manis

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will keep his job after surviving a recall vote Tuesday against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

According to early exit poll results and estimates by CNN and The Associated Press, the Republican governor had about 57 percent of the vote over his Democratic challenger’s 43 percent.

Walker told the AP it’s time “to put our differences aside and find ways to work together to move Wisconsin forward.”

The recall came after Walker introduced strict, controversial measures that limited collective bargaining rights of many state employees.

His attempts to reign in government spending made him a beacon for the tea party and fiscal Republicans.

More from GlobalPost: Walker to face recall election

Presidential campaigns attempted to frame Wisconsin’s fight as a precursor to the larger election in November.

GOP candidate Mitt Romney immediately trumpeted Walker’s victory for his own cause.

“Tonight’s results will echo beyond the borders of Wisconsin,” Romney said in a prepared release, according to MSNBC. “Gov. Walker has demonstrated over the past year what sound fiscal policies can do to turn an economy around, and I believe that in November voters across the country will demonstrate that they want the same in Washington, D.C.”

Republican and Democrat supporters spent record amounts in the state, CNN said. 

The network cited Center for Public Integrity figures that estimated political spending at nearly $64 million – or almost $30 million more than the 2010 governor’s race.

Walker also beat Barrett two years ago with 52 percent of the vote.

Barrett said out-of-state GOP backers allowed the governor to spend without limits.

“What’s happened is, Scott Walker has become the rock star of the far right and has been able to raise literally millions of dollars from out-of-state contributors,” Barrett said.

More from GlobalPost: Scott Walker's lead narrows before recall

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