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Pro-gun rights Milwaukee sheriff defeats rival after heated primary draws national attention

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According to results from Fox6Now.com, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., right, defeated longtime Milwaukee Police Lt. Chris Moews, left, in a Democratic primary that garnered national attention. (Campaign photos via Fox6Now.com)

A Wisconsin county sheriff whose outspoken pro-Second Amendment views turned his re-election campaign into a battle between gun control groups and the National Rifle Association emerged victorious Wednesday against his Democratic primary challenger.

According to results from Fox6Now.com, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. garnered 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent for Chris Moews, a Milwaukee police lieutenant.

“Obviously the voters of this county, by a majority, have said they like my style,” Clarke told Fox6Now.com after declaring victory Wednesday.

Moews said Wednesday that the “voters have spoken.”

“I hope the sheriff will set politics aside, reconsider his go-it-alone approach and work collaboratively and respectfully with law enforcement and municipal leaders to truly make our community safer and stronger,” he said in a statement to Fox6Now.com.

Clarke made headlines last year after he spent money on a radio ad that urged citizens to enroll in firearms classes following budget cuts. He told residents in the 30-second commercial to “point that barrel center mass and pull the trigger” because “911 is not our best option.”

He also said that personal safety is no longer a spectator sport and told citizens, "I need you in the game."

The primary race was a rematch of the one four years ago in which Clarke beat Moews by six percentage points. Since no Republicans are in the race, Clarke will most likely become the next county sheriff.

Unlike in 2010, Moews was armed with money aimed at taking down Clarke.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - who through his political group has publicly committed to spending $50 million on gun-control politics in 2014 – paid $150,000 to air a series of television ads targeting Clarke’s conservative pro-gun policies.

The money from Bloomberg’s Independence USA super PAC was more than what Clarke and Moews spent on their entire campaigns combined.

Bloomberg spokesman Howard Wolfson told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that he decided to get involved in the sheriff’s race because it allowed him to shape policy on a local level.

“The issue of guns is one that (Bloomberg) cares an awful lot about and there’s a very clear contrast on that issue in this race,” Wolfson told the newspaper.

But Bloomberg wasn’t the only person pumping cash into the primary.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee spent $400,000 on its own anti-Clarke ads.

For his part, Clarke spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in April. The NRA, who calls Clarke a “rising national star,” has come to Clarke’s defense, soliciting donations from its members on his behalf and buying online ads for his re-election bid.

“Make no mistake: Sheriff Clarke is fighting the reelection battle of his life right now because he dared to stand on principle by standing up for you, me and the NRA,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said.

"Am I big on a person's right to be able to defend themselves? Yes. You know why? Because it's a natural right,” Clarke recently told Wisconsin News Radio 620 WTMJ.

Moews had a different take.

"If I have the opportunity to defend myself and my family I will do so to the best of my abilities but I’m certainly also going to call 911 if I have the ability because I need the cavalry to come and help me," Moews told WTMJ at the same political event.

Click for more from Fox6Now.com.