Democratic Gov. Tony Evers defeated Republican business executive Tim Michels in Wisconsin Tuesday night to win reelection in one of the nation’s most tightly divided states.
Wisconsin’s general election for governor was the most expensive in the nation this year, and the results after another tight campaign foreshadow the state’s status as a presidential battleground once again in 2024. President Joe Biden made an appearance in Wisconsin at the beginning of the fall campaign season, and former President Donald Trump rallied for Michels in August.
The results mean that Evers will still be able to veto bills passed by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature. That has been a theme of his governorship: The Democrat issued more vetoes in the last four years than any previous Wisconsin chief executive.
During a campaign rally in September, Michels promised rally-goers that he would take bills Evers vetoed and sign them if elected. Michels also supported a suite of changes to state election laws that Evers is still positioned to block.
Evers, who has served as Wisconsin governor since 2019, barely defeated former Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2018. Evers served as Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction for 10 years and as deputy superintendent for eight years before that.
The race between Evers and Michels included plenty of contrasts between the two candidates regarding abortion, crime, guns and education. Abortion was a key issue in the race, after Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban — which makes it a felony for doctors to perform almost all abortions — took effect following the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Michels has stated that he is “pro-life” but said he would sign a bill granting exemptions for rape and incest. Evers opposes the state law and has pushed Republican lawmakers in the Legislature to change it, vetoing five anti-abortion bills in a single day last December.
Evers has also voiced support for red flag laws, which allow the seizure of weapons from those deemed a danger to themselves or others. Michels, who opposes red flag laws, has made crime the cornerstone of his campaign, stating that Evers did nothing to address the skyrocketing violence in Milwaukee and vowed to fix it if elected.
During a debate between Michels and Evers in October, Michels said he supported universal school choice, while Evers, a former teacher, released a plan to increase public school funding by nearly $2 billion. Michels also wants to give parents more say regarding what kids are taught in school as education issues such as race, gender and library books have become hot-button issues. Evers vetoed bills dealing with these issues that Republican legislators passed.
Michels, who is co-owner and vice president of a construction company, unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 2004 and has been a major donor to GOP politicians.
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