Governor Tony Evers formally launched his re-election campaign this weekend.
The governor announced his bid on Saturday, as part of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s annual convention. Like the 2020 convention, this year’s two-day event was held virtually.
Evers described his re-election as protecting Democrats’ veto power against the Republican-held state legislature.
“Here’s the deal folks: The stakes are just too damn high,” Evers told convention attendees. “We’re up against another decade of rigged maps, we’re up against stripping protections for pre-existing conditions and a woman’s right to choose, we’re up against attacks on Democracy itself and a party doing everything they can to make voting more difficult.”
Evers unseated former Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2018 by a tight margin of 29,000 votes.
Even before day one, Evers faced pushback from Republican lawmakers. Less than a month before he took office, the GOP held a lame-duck session with the specific purpose of stripping Evers of power.
Three years and a pandemic later, that relationship has not mellowed.
“They’ve taken me to court, they’ve jeopardized federal relief, they’ve tried to override my vetoes – and failed every time, by the way – and they’re going to continue to play politics with our recovery and doing what’s best for our state,” Evers said.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that only one Republican, Jonathan Wichmann, has filed for next year’s gubernatorial race. At least three other people — including former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch — are reportedly considering running.
As Democrats rally behind Evers’ re-election campaign, they’ll also be fighting in another theater: the United States Senate.
Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s Republican senator, has repeatedly declined to confirm if he’ll seek reelection next year. But, his seat could be crucial to securing a blue majority in a chamber balanced on a razor’s edge.
Democrats currently control the Senate with a 50-50, Republican-Democrat split. Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie breaker.
Madison’s own U.S. Representative Mark Pocan said getting Johnson out of office — if he decides to seek re-election — will take a focused effort.
“We need to send Ron Johnson back to whatever planet he came from. It is embarrassing to have America’s most clueless senator,” Pocan said. “RoJo has been a no-no for Wisconsin.”
At least six democratic candidates are vying for Johnson’s seat. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is also a likely challenger, although he hasn’t formally tossed his hat in the ring.
Wisconsin’s Republicans will be having their annual convention later this month. Unlike the Democrats, their event will be in-person in the Wisconsin Dells.