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The Latest: Walker concedes defeat to Democrat Evers

Associated Press logoAssociated Press 5 days ago
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Video by Reuters

MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on Wisconsin elections (all times local):

1:57 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker has conceded defeat to Democrat Tony Evers.

Walker says he called Evers on Wednesday to concede defeat. The two-term Republican incumbent had held off conceding because the race was so close, but his campaign decided Wednesday there were not enough votes in play to change the outcome.

Based on unofficial results, Evers won by about 31,000 votes.

Walker says in a statement that he offered the full support of his staff and Cabinet to Evers as he begins the transition.

Walker had expressed concern about 2,000 absentee ballots in Milwaukee that had been reconstructed due to errors or damage. But Walker's campaign says in a statement that it determined there weren't enough votes in question to change the outcome of the race.

Evers is slated to be sworn into office Jan. 7.

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FILE - This combination of file photos shows Wisconsin attorney candidates in the November 2018 election from left, incumbent Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel and Democrat challenger John Paul. (AP Photo/File) © The Associated Press FILE - This combination of file photos shows Wisconsin attorney candidates in the November 2018 election from left, incumbent Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel and Democrat challenger John Paul. (AP Photo/File) 10:20 a.m.

The city of Milwaukee says its handling of absentee ballots on election night was routine, even as Gov. Scott Walker has raised questions about their possible effect on the governor's race.

The city says it reconstructed about 2,000 ballots due to damage or other errors. It says the process is routine and witnessed by representatives of both political parties, election workers and the public.

Walker's campaign has pointed to the damaged ballots as one of the reasons why he has not conceded to Democrat Tony Evers. Evers defeated Walker by about 31,000 votes, based on unofficial results. That's close to the margin for a recount.

Milwaukee's Election Commission says in a statement Wednesday that the process of reconstructing a ballot is "entirely transparent, dictated by state law and was followed by the City of Milwaukee."

Examples of problems that would lead to reconstruction include voter error, such as marking X's on ballots or using pencil, and damage that can occur during the mail processing.

The city counted about 47,000 absentee ballots.

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10:15 a.m.

Democrats are crying foul after Republicans held their majorities in both legislative chambers in Tuesday's elections, insisting the GOP wins are more evidence the party drew district boundaries unfairly.

The GOP went into Election Day with a 64-35 majority in the Assembly and an 18-15 Senate advantage. Unofficial election results show not a single Republican legislative incumbent lost, even though Democrats appear to have won at least three statewide offices, including governor.

Democrats filed a federal lawsuit three years ago arguing Republicans unconstitutionally re-drew legislative district boundaries in 2011 to consolidate power.

Lawsuit organizer Sachin Chheda says Tuesday's results are further evidence that the districts are rigged for Republicans and will bolster Democrats' case in court.

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9:40 a.m.

Turnout in Wisconsin's midterm election is the highest on record, topping out at over 57 percent.

The hard-fought race for governor drove people to vote Tuesday, with the race for U.S. Senate close behind.

Based on unofficial totals, nearly 2.7 million people cast ballots. That comes to 57.2 percent of the voting-age population.

Democrat Tony Evers narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, thanks largely to massive turnout in Democratic strongholds of Dane and Milwaukee counties. Walker also underperformed in key Republican areas, like the suburban Milwaukee counties.

Walker lost by just over 1 percentage point of the vote, based on unofficial results.

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9:35 a.m.

Democrat Josh Kaul is declaring himself Wisconsin's next attorney general even though his race with Republican incumbent Brad Schimel remains too close to call.

Unofficial results Wednesday morning showed Kaul leading by almost 23,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage point, with the unofficial vote nearly complete.

Schimel said in a statement that it "appears" Kaul has won, but he will wait for the official canvass.

Kaul called himself the attorney general in a brief appearance outside the Dane County courthouse Wednesday morning. He thanked his family and supporters and promised to work to expand Medicare coverage and withdraw the state from a federal lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

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9:15 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker's first comments since his election defeat are coming via Twitter, with the posting of a Bible verse.

Walker narrowly lost to Democrat Tony Evers in Tuesday's election. While Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch vowed there would be a recount, and his campaign spokesman raised concerns about damaged ballots, Walker has not been heard from.

But shortly before 9 a.m. Wednesday, Walker tweeted the Psalm "This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Walker's father, Llew Walker, was a Baptist preacher who died in October.

Unofficial results show that Evers defeated Walker by just over 1 percentage point. Only candidates who lose by less than a point can request a recount.

Evers declared victory early Wednesday morning.

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9:06 a.m.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says it "appears" that Democrat Josh Kaul has won their race, but Schimel will wait until all votes are counted.

Schimel said in a statement Wednesday morning that he had spoken with Kaul and that if the margin doesn't substantially change, he vowed to help with a smooth transition.

With the unofficial vote nearly complete, Kaul led by almost 23,000 votes, or less than 1 percentage point. Losing candidates can request recounts if the margin is less than one point.

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2:40 a.m.

Democrat Tony Evers' running mate Mandela Barnes will become the first African American lieutenant governor in Wisconsin history.

The Evers victory over Republican Gov. Scott Walker means that Barnes will become just the second black person elected to statewide office in Wisconsin.

Vel Phillips was the first black person elected to statewide office in 1978. She served as secretary of state for one term.

Barnes won an August primary and that paired him with Evers, who also survived a primary.

The 31-year-old Barnes is a former state representative from Milwaukee. He joked about the difference in age with Evers, who is more than twice as old as him at 67. They called themselves the "Tony and Mandela Show" on the campaign trail, working to engage younger voters through stunts like live streaming their drive to a news conference.

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2:25 a.m.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's campaign is alleging that "thousands of ballots were damaged and had to be recreated" in the election that saw Democrat Tony Evers score a narrow victory.

Walker campaign spokesman Brian Reisinger says until the ballots can be examined, there is no way to judge their validity.

Reisinger also says that Walker wants to see the official canvas of the vote and for military ballots to be counted "before any decision can be made."

Counties have until 9 a.m. Tuesday to canvas the vote.

While Walker looked for a way to escape the loss, Democrats exalted.

Evers told exuberant supporters at a Madison theater that he was "confident" in saying, "I'm going to be the next governor of the state of Wisconsin."

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2:07 a.m.

For the first time in nearly a decade, Wisconsin will have a new governor.

Democrat Tony Evers narrowly beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but Walker declined to immediately concede.

Evers' victory completed a Democratic sweep of the top two statewide prizes, after Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin cruised to an easy victory.

Elsewhere, Democrats came up short in their hopes of taking the state Senate. And a bitter attorney general race between incumbent Republican Brad Schimel and Democrat Josh Kaul was too close to call.

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