MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz rallied Wisconsin Democrats holding their state convention this weekend, urging them to regroup after a failed attempt to recall the state's Republican governor.
Wasserman Schultz said Wisconsin Democrats had been up against "nothing short of an avalanche of secret, out of state, and corporate special interest money" in their bid to unseat Governor Scott Walker, who enjoyed a 7-to-1 financial advantage over his challenger Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Walker defeated Barrett by 8 percentage points in Tuesday's election, ending a bitter 15-month political battle over the governor's efforts to eliminate most collective-bargaining rights for Wisconsin's public sector unions.
The fractious debate propelled Wisconsin to the national political stage and Tuesday's results could spell trouble for President Barack Obama's Democratic Party, which depends on labor unions for votes, financial support and organization.
Walker raised $31 million compared to the $4.2 million Barrett garnered by May 21. About 70 percent of the money raised by Walker came from out-of-state donors.
Wasserman Schultz urged Democrats to keep fighting in Wisconsin, a battleground state in November's presidential race between Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
"Make no mistake - we will not cede an inch to Mitt Romney over the next five months," the Florida congresswoman told the gathering Friday night in Appleton. "If he thinks we're going to let him bring the same failed policies of the past back to Wisconsin, he is sorely mistaken."
Republicans called Wasserman Schultz's remarks "damage control."
She "cannot credibly ask Wisconsin's liberal grassroots to get enthusiastic about helping the DNC and President Obama in November," said state Republican Party spokesman Ben Sparks.
Editing By Edith Honan and Doina Chiacu