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Senator Robert Wirch keeps his seat in 22nd district

Senator Robert Wirch keeps his seat in 22nd district

By Annie Scholz and the WTMJ News Team. CREATED Aug 16, 2011 - UPDATED: Aug 17, 2011

Click on the video link to see raw video of TODAY'S TMJ4's Annie Scholz interviewing Democratic Senator Robert Wirch.

KENOSHA - Senator Robert Wirch was up for recall after fleeing the state with fellow Democratic senators in an effort to avoid a vote on Governor Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill.

The senator thanked his supporters Tuesday night and said he is ready to get to work.

"I think it's vindication when you get a vote total like this tonight, that people still have confidence in me, still want me to work for them in Madison. I am very thankful," said Wirch.

Senator Wirch has served the 22nd district since 1997.

In conceding defeat, Republican candidate Jonathan Steitz told his supporters he would not have done anything differently.

The first-time candidate failed to pull in the big votes from Kenosha County, which makes up 95 percent of the district.

GOP enthusiasm was also an issue.  About the same number of people signed petitions to recall Wirch as there were voters for Steitz.

"We knew this was going to be an uphill battle from the beginning," said Steitz.  "This is traditionally a very Democratic area.  I'm proud of the campaign we've run, and I came from being a political unknown to doing well, I think, in this race."

Steitz says Wirch outspent him five-to-one.