Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told GOP activists Dem Gov. Tony Evers isn’t “up to the job.”
Speaking alongside Joint Finance Co-chair John Nygren, Fitzgerald told the state GOP convention he viewed Evers as a reluctant candidate for guv against Scott Walker in 2018 who didn’t really want the job and has now proven he can’t meet the demands of the position.
Fitzgerald said Evers’ lack of affinity for the job left a void in the guv’s office that has been filled by staff who aren’t “policy people,” calling it “the greatest weakness” of his operation.
Relations between the guv and GOP legislators were strained even before he was sworn in as Republicans approved a package in December 2018 to reign in the powers of Evers and Dem AG Josh Kaul. They hit a new low point this summer after news broke that the guv’s staff taped a phone conversation with Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, as they discussed a possible rules package to deal with COVID-19 after the state Supreme Court overturned his administration’s extended stay-at-home order.
The panel, hosted by longtime GOP official Brian Schimming, opened with several jokes about the taping, though the three also were sharply critical of it.
“That’s the epitome of the disrespect that’s emerged, and it’s not a good situation right now,” Fitzgerald said.
Nygren, R-Marinette, told GOP activists Republicans this fall are going to compete in places they haven’t before. He said Assembly Republicans have candidates in all but a half-dozen seats and two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature are within reach.
Republicans would have to net three seats in each house to reach that mark, which would allow them to override an Evers veto without Dem support.
“We have an opportunity to win in places we’ve never won before,” Nygren said. “If you’re a Democrat sitting in Trump country right now, you should be very nervous.”