Tony Evers projected winner of Wisconsin gubernatorial race
Before the polls close, the fight for governorship is not over.
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is projected to win reelection for governor in Wisconsin, the Associated Press reports.
Republican candidate Tim Michels conceded early Wednesday morning, around 12:20 a.m., with more than 90% of the expected vote counted. Evers held a 3-point lead.
“It wasn’t our night tonight and I thank everyone for all of your support,” Michels said.
Michels spoke very few words during the speech, not in his typical energetic speech style, and told supporters not to be in denial of the results.
Gov Tony Evers took the stage around 12:45 a.m. to accept his victory.
“Holy mackerel folks how about that!”
Gov. Evers said he has worked hard over the last few years to never make promises he couldn’t keep and to try to do the right thing.
“That’s who I am folks and that’s what I’ve always been,” Evers said. “Some people call it boring but you know what Wisconsin, as it turns out, boring wins.”
Evers also said he was excited to get to work with Sara Rodriguez, his next lieutenant governor.
“We’re going to polka tonight and get back to work tomorrow.”
The race was the most expensive in state history and a key one for Democrats ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Democratic Gov. Evers, the incumbent, joined dozens of supporters from the Teamsters union late Monday alongside other top Democrats running for office.
“Wisconsin is in a good place going forward,” Evers said. “Our work has made that happen.”
Michels was in De Pere Monday, near Green Bay, to meet with supporters.
“We’re feeling wonderful,” he said. “We’re on the right side of the issues.”
Polls, including one from the Nov. 2 Marquette Law School, showed Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race neck and neck. And according to RealClearPolitics, less than one point separated Gov. Evers from his Republican challenger Michels.
Gov. Evers said Tuesday that he was expecting a late night, or even an early morning, for results to come in.
His final message to people was that every single vote counts, saying he knows the election will come down to the wire.
“I knew right from the get-go, this race no matter who was my opponent was going to be close, and that’s just the way we are, we’re a purple state and you know, everybody accepts that,” Evers said.
Sam Roecker, an Evers campaign spokesperson, explained what he believed it would take to win Tuesday night.
“Today we’ve seen steady streams of voters, especially in Milwaukee and Madison, which is a good sign for us,” Roecker said.
According to the National Governor’s Association, prior to his election back in 2018, Evers served as the Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction winning statewide elections in 2009, 2013, and 2017.
Born and raised in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Governor Evers graduated from Plymouth High School and earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Kathy, an educator. They are parents of three kids and have nine grandchildren.
Some of the main issues Evers ran on included improving public education. He promised to increase state aid to schools, expand job training and apprenticeship programs, and increase investments into special education among other things. Evers was endorsed by the School Administrators Alliance.
Another main issue, inflation. In his first term as governor, Evers cut taxes for most Wisconsinites by 15%. He says he wants to cut another 10% for those making less than $100,000.
Businessman Tim Michels poised himself as a political outsider throughout the campaign, earning the endorsement of former President Donald Trump before the primaries. Michels is the co-owner of Michels Corporation, a construction company with more than 8,000 employees. Michels was born and raised in Brownsville. He served 12 years in the U.S. Army.
On Tuesday, Michels and family members cast their ballots in Hartland, where he lives with his wife, Barbara.
The final message from a Michels campaign spokesperson- there’s an appetite for an outsider. Michels shared a similar message after submitting his ballot.
“It’s time for change,” Michels said. “It’s time for a leader who is going to respect the Wisconsin economy and put working families of Wisconsin first and always.”
A Michels spokesperson declined a live interview, but when asked what it would take for Tim Michels to win, the campaign said “Tim has what it takes to win tonight.”
Earlier in the day, Michels shared the first thing he would do if he was elected.
“The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to go down to just this side of the Illinois border and we’re going to put up that ‘open for business sign,’” Michels said. “The open for business sign that Scott Walker had up and Tony Evers took down on his first day.”
Among his platforms, Michels has stressed “lower taxes, better schools, less crime,” which is what he told supporters at a campaign stop in Theresa.
At the late October event in Theresa, Michels emphasized high inflation and the state’s budget surplus. He called for “massive tax reform.” According to his campaign website, he wants to reduce corporate and individual income taxes and eliminate the personal property tax.
On education, Michels differentiated himself from Evers by supporting universal school choice. In the only debate against Evers in mid-October, Michels said, “Every parent is a taxpayer, so they should all equally have the benefit of those tax dollars to educate their kids.” Michels also said during the debate, “I’m going to spend more money on education than any governor in the history of this state.” His campaign did not answer NBC15′s questions on estimates of his school choice program. In addition, Michels has criticized the critical race theory, which considers American history through the lens of systemic racism.
Public safety has been a common talking point by candidates across Wisconsin’s races. Michels wants to incentivize hiring more police officers and has blamed the “defund the police” movement for crime rates. At a campaign event, Michels called on Evers to halt all paroles in the state. Governors in Wisconsin have the power to appoint members of the parole commission, but they do not actually grant paroles. The parole process has been used by both Republican and Democratic governors. Furthermore, Michels has said he wants to appoint a chair of the commission whose goal will not be to reduce the prison population.
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