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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

 9:34 PM 

Crowd outside Capitol shrug off initial projections of Walker win

Angie Hougas works on the Capitol Square and had been at every Saturday protest since the movement began over a year ago, and she was there again Tuesday night.

“There has been a sense of general excitement at the building all day. People are very festive,” Hougas said not long after the polls closed.

Walker’s opponents hit drums to the beat of “this is what democracy looks like” and vuvuzela horns and voices shouted in return. Cheers and shouts of “thank you” were raised when a fire truck, a long-time ally of protestors, circled the square.

By 9 p.m., news that the race had been called for Governor Walker did not appear to affect the crowd’s enthusiasm.

Barry Rokusek said the atmosphere was full of “positive and nervous energy.” He described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the race but wanted to remain realistic about Barrett’s chances despite the projections.

In the case of a Barrett loss, he looked ahead to the possibility of Walker being implicated in the John Doe investigation.

There was a feeling from members of the crowd that they were part of a larger struggle and would continue the fight into the future.

“If Scott Walker did anything well, he energized the electorate. Lots of people have come together," said Rokusek. “This movement won’t die.”

But by 10 p.m, the results appeared to start settling in with those gathered near the top of State Street. Some Walker supporters also made sure to drive home what had happened. A couple in a silver car drove around the Capitol square, honking the horn and cheering Walker. When the car came to a stop about a block from the gathered protesters, there was some verbal jousting before the car was re-routed down Wisconsin Avenue with police blocking off the part of the square on either side of the gathered protesters.

Two men in red T-shirts carring Walker signs waded through the heart of the crowd as some protesters stared in disbelief.

 -- By Jay Olle

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