Republican Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term Tuesday to Democrat Tony Evers, state education secretary.
The Associated Press called the race for Evers  with 49% of the vote about 1:20 a.m. Wednesday based on unofficial returns. Walker had 48% of the vote. Four other candidates split the remaining votes.
The race was so close that Walker’s team said a detailed review of balloting and a recount were possible. But an unofficial tally had Evers winning by 1.1 percentage points — a margin that would be too large for a recount if it held. 

“It’s time for a change, folks,” Evers told supporters in front of a large Wisconsin flag on the stage of Madison’s Orpheum Theater. “I will be focused on solving problems, not on picking political fights.”

Vilas County voters supported Walker 7,814 to 4,509. In Oneida County, voters backed Walker 11,247 to 7,851.

This campaign marked Walker’s fourth run for governor in eight years, including an unsuccessful effort to recall him in the middle of his first term.

A win by Evers gives Democrats a grip on power in Wisconsin’s Capitol for the first time in six years. His running mate, former state Rep. Mandela Barnes, would become the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor when the two are sworn in in January.

Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, told Republicans gathered in Pewaukee that volunteers and donations would be needed for a likely recount. 

“The fight is not over,” Kleefisch told supporters around 1 a.m. “I am here to tell you this morning that this race is a dead heat. It's too close to call.”

Walker campaign adviser Brian Reisinger said Walker would wait until the official canvass and tallying military ballots before deciding what to do.

“Thousands of ballots were damaged and had to be recreated,” Reisinger said in a statement. “Until there is a comparison of the original ballots to the recreated ballots, there is no way to judge their validity.”



The recount law

A candidate who loses by 1% or less can demand a recount under a law Walker signed last year. Taxpayers pick up the cost if the loss is within 0.25%; the losing candidate would have to pay if the margin is wider than that. 

Those rules were put in place to limit when candidates could force recounts in response to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein seeking a recount in Wisconsin even though she had received just 1% of the vote. Her campaign paid $3.5 million for the recount, which did not change the outcome of Donald Trump's victory in  Wisconsin.

Heading into the election, both Evers and Walker had put together plans in case of a recount, according to sources close to both campaigns. 



Other state contests

Incumbent Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel was upset by Democrat Josh Kaul 49% to 48%.

For secretary of state, incumbent Democrat Doug La Follette defeated Republican challenger Jay Schroeder 52% to 47%.

For state treasurer, Democrat Sarah Godlewski defeated Republican Travis Hart­wig 50% to 46%. Andrew Zuelke of the Constitution Party had 2% of the vote.