Wisconsin's GOP Gov. Walker defeats Dem challenger Burke

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Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker defeated Democratic candidate Mary Burke Tuesday night to win his third statewide election in four years.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Walker led businesswoman Burke 53 percent to 46 percent.

Walker was projected to emerge victorious after a hard-fought race between the two candidates. Polling showed the two neck-and-neck leading up to Election Day.

Walker said Tuesday night that "Washington-based" groups had tried to defeat him multiple times, but Wisconsin residents were not fooled.

"I’m an optimist, I believe here in Wisconsin and in America we want to be for something, not against something," he said. "That's the difference, they're against something, we're for something."

Walker rose to national prominence in 2011 when he successfully pushed lawmakers to roll back the collective bargaining rights of most state workers. His efforts resulted in a recall election the next year that he survived, becoming the first U.S. governor ever to do so.

Walker is considered to be a potential 2016 presidential candidate, though he downplayed talk of that during his campaign.

He argued he deserved a second term after working with the GOP-controlled legislature to wipe out a $3.6 billion budget shortfall and cut taxes by $2 billion, and presiding over the addition of more than 110,000 private-sector jobs.

Burke highlighted her experience as an executive for her family’s business, Trek Bicycle Corp., during her campaign, saying she knew how to create jobs and would fight for Wisconsin’s middle class.

Burke spent $5 million of her own personal wealth on the race, one-third of the $15 million her campaign brought in. Walker raised $25 million since the middle of 2013, but outside groups spent millions more. Total spending on the race was expected to reach up to $60 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.