A look through Wis. Gov. Scott Walker's tenure

By the Associated Press | June 6, 2012 | 12:40 AM EDT

FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2010 file photo, supporters cheer as then Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker enters his victory party in Pewaukee, Wis. More than a year after the standoff over union rights that rocked Wisconsin and the nation for weeks, the Republican Governor will face Milwaukee's Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett in Tuesday's recall election. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps, File)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has become the only U.S. governor to survive a recall election, swiftly defeating his Democratic challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The race is a big win for Republicans, who hope to carry the momentum they've gained in Wisconsin into the November election. But it's a blow for Democrats and labor unions who wanted to see him removed from office.

The recall was more than a year and a half in the making, and concludes months of bitter political division over Walker's aggressive strategy last year to strip most public union workers of collective bargaining rights to control the state budget. Protests as large as 100,000 swelled at the state Capitol, but despite the outcry, the bill was signed into law.

Since then, Walker has remained a rising national star while fighting the recall.

Watch how the recall movement was born in this series of photos that shows Walker's tumultuous term in Wisconsin and his victory.