How did we get here? FOX6’s Mike Lowe offers a look back at the 2014 gubernatorial campaign

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MADISON (WITI) -- The race for governor has been a long and heated battle -- and if it seems like it's been going on for quite some time, that's because it has!

The campaign for governor in Wisconsin began in the dead of winter almost two years ago. Before they even had a candidate, the Democratic Party was preparing field operations for the 2014 gubernatorial election.

As political observers speculated about who might have a chance to defeat Scott Walker, several names emerged. Would it be one of the battle-tested lawmakers who emerged form the crucible of Act 10 -- like Peter Barca, John Erpenback or Chris Larson?

For months, no one threw their hat in the ring.

Then, in October of 2013, a new name emerged: Mary Burke.

Burke announced her candidacy in a YouTube video.

A day later, Burke would meet the press in Milwaukee for the first time as a candidate.

Months later, on "Tax Day" -- April 15th, Governor Scott Walker formally announced his re-election campaign, amid speculation he could be a 2016 presidential contender.

A week later, amid rumblings Burke had simply been anointed by the Democratic Party elders, Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey launched a primary challenge to Mary Burke from the left wing. It was clear from the beginning it would be a long-shot bid.

In May, a Marquette University Law School Poll showed a tied race.

A month later, Hulsey's antics were on full display at the GOP Convention, where he dressed as a Confederate general to draw attention to Republicans and race.

In June, documents in the second "John Doe" investigation involving Governor Walker were unsealed, and prosecutors outlined a theory of their case -- that Governor Walker was at the center of a "criminal scheme" to illegally coordinate fundraising with his campaign and outside groups. He was never charged, but the headlines did political damage.

In July, it was clear that outside money would be pouring into Wisconsin, and Governor Walker held a significant advantage in fundraising.

Meanwhile, Burke spent much of the year out of the media spotlight -- campaigning outside of Milwaukee and Madison.

As ads hit the air, Governor Walker sought to define Burke's family company "Trek Bicycle" as an "outsourcer."

Governor Walker maintained that his grassroots campaign was strong, and a month before the primary election, he made the Republican Party's one millionth campaign call of the 2014 race.

When the primary election came, Burke again avoided reporters -- deciding not to hold any public events, while Governor Walker held a rally.

Walker and Burke spent the next month sparring over Walker's jobs record, and just about every other issue.

At the end of September, Burke's campaign was rocked by allegations of plagiarism. A consultant for the Burke campaign had re-used his own words in her jobs plan.

Even though it occupied a week of the campaign, it appeared not to hurt Burke in the polls. An October poll showed the race was in a dead heat.

Governor Walker and Burke met for a snoozer of a debate in Eau Claire, and a week later, another in Milwaukee.

Democrats pushed early voting, and Burke herself cast her ballot early on October 21st.

As the race appeared to be a toss-up, with national implications, outside money flooded in, and so did big-name politicians.

First lady Michelle Obama came to Wisconsin twice for Burke, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came twice for Governor Walker.

In the campaign's last 10 days, two presidents visited Milwaukee to urge voter turnout -- President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton.

In the final week of the campaign, there was one more bombshell -- unconfirmed rumors reported by right-wing media outlets that Burke, who had staked her candidacy on her record as a Trek Bicycle executive, was fired from the company by her own family. Both she and Trek denied the rumors, but didn't refute them with documentation -- a move that allowed the story to linger over the closing days of the campaign.

In those closing days, the candidates made laps around the state, hitting every corner with their closing arguments -- with both Governor Walker and Mary Burke hoping they would celebrate a victory on Tuesday night.

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