Gov. Scott Walker wants to go about mending Wisconsin's political divide in an egalitarian way: over brats and beers.

On Tuesday, Walker defeated Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to become the nation's first governor to survive a recall election.

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Now the rising Republican star is focusing his message on what lies ahead. His term runs through 2014, and he faces a bitterly divided state.

Walker says it's time "to put our differences aside and find ways to work together."

The governor planned to meet with his cabinet Wednesday and then to invite all members of the Legislature to meet as soon as next week over burgers, brats and "maybe a little bit of good Wisconsin beer."

The effort to remove Walker was only the third gubernatorial recall in U.S. history.

Walker's solid victory serves as a warning for President Barack Obama about the potential hurdles he faces as he fights to hang onto a Democratic state he won comfortably in 2008.

The victory gives Republican challenger Mitt Romney a reason to feel optimistic about his chances of winning a state that has voted for the Democratic nominee in the past six elections.

The Wisconsin election tested voter attitudes toward Walker's aggressive governing style as well as a law that ended collective bargaining for most public employees and teachers.

In the coming days, national Republicans and Democrats alike will re-evaluate the Wisconsin political landscape.

Walker becomes the first governor in American history to stay in office after a recall challenge.

The Republican governor rose to national prominence last year after taking on public-sector unions shortly after being sworn in. That fight also triggered the recall and set up a rematch with Tom Barrett, who was defeated by Walker in 2010.

 

Walker argued his policies were necessary to confront the state's budget problems.

The loss is a blow to Democrats and to unions that spent millions to oust Walker.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)