Fewer than 40 thousand votes. That’s the slim edge Democrat Tony Evers managed to eek out yesterday over Republican governor Scott Walker.
That decision ends eight years of Walker in the Governor’s Mansion. His two terms have been colored by his plight to weaken public sector labor unions and cuts to education funding.
Also on the Democratic ticket last night, Mandela Barnes becomes the first black lieutenant governor in the state of Wisconsin.
Evers addressed supporters at his election night party at the Orpheum in Madison after night after a wave of absentee ballots from Milwaukee decisively put him in the lead. That was well after one a.m.
Before that, Evers had at times held a margin of only around 120 votes.
“I’ll be focused on solving problems, not picking political fights,” Evers said. “I will never make promises I cannot keep, and I will always work for you.”
Evers won the race by turning out 200,000 more votes than Mary Burke did in the last governor’s race four years ago. And he did that not by flipping Walker voters.
Walker got around 34,000 more votes this time than last time. So he held on to his base, but didn’t add much more new support.
But Evers turned out substantially more voters in the two biggest counties in the state – Dane and Milwaukee. A staggering 44,000 more people voted for the Democrat this race than last time. Milwaukee turned up an additional 31,000 Democratic voters more than last time.
But that’s only half the story. Evers also turned out more new votes in heavily Republican counties. Evers saw bigger gains than Walker in the Milwaukee suburbs. Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Winnebago, and Racine all gave Tony Evers thousands of more votes than they gave the previous Democrat. So did the counties surrounding Green Bay and Appleton.
Evers also saw thousands of more votes in La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Kenosha.
Wednesday afternoon at a press conference at the Dane County Boys and Girls Club, Evers told reporters Walker had called him to concede.
In a concession statement Wednesday, Walker thanked Wisconsin voters, who chose him in three previous statewide races. He says quote “We’ve come a long way together and it is my sincere hope that the progress we’ve made during our time in office will continue and that we can keep Wisconsin working for generations to come.”
Evers said he’s begun talks with Republican legislative leaders.
Republican Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos congratulated Evers on his win today, but says the divided government quote “cannot be seen as any kind of mandate for change.” He says Assembly Republicans will continue to deliver on quote “conservative promises.”
Democrats weren’t able to make the gains in the state legislature that they’d hoped for. Republicans won back a senate district they’d lost in a special election this summer. That northeast district includes Door and Kewaunee Counties.
Nina Kravinsky and Molly Stentz reported this story