Gov. Tony Evers this evening formally announced his reelection bid, telling Dem activists, “Wisconsin, I’m in.”
Speaking to the virtual Democratic state convention, Evers warned what’s at stake in next year’s elections: another decade of “rigged” legislative boundaries, protecting health care coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and abortion rights. He also warned of “attacks on democracy itself” from a “party doing everything they can to make voting more difficult.”
“This is the moment where we can choose to fix the big problems in Wisconsin and bounce back stronger than ever before,” Evers said. “That means doing what’s best for our kids, creating good-paying jobs, fixing our infrastructure, supporting small businesses, and making sure everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare — all the things we want for our state.”
Evers, 69, has been making moves toward a reelection bid for months. He finished 2020 with $3.4 million in the bank, well north of the $793,861 Scott Walker had at the end of 2012 ahead of winning a second term in 2014 or the $59,318 in the bank to finish 2016, two years before he lost to Evers.
Evers also announced the addition of four hires for his political operation including Cassi Fenili as campaign manager.
Meanwhile, a host of Republicans have been considering a bid for guv in 2022, including former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who launched a PAC and an issue advocacy group ahead of an expected bid. Those who have also been considering a run include: former U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau; U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, of Green Bay; Madison businessman Eric Hovde; state Sen. Chris Kapenga, of Delafield; lobbyist Bill McCoshen; and former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson.
State GOP Chair Andrew Hitt knocked Evers as “asleep at the wheel” as guv, saying he had no plan to deal with a backlog in the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic, violent protests in Kenosha last summer or reopening schools to in-person instruction.
“Evers has nothing to run on except a record of abysmal failure and absent leadership,” Hitt said.
Along with warning what was at stake in 2022, Evers laid out what he said Dems will be fighting for next year.
In doing so, he took digs at his predecessor for calling himself the education governor and for the deal Walker signed with Foxconn. Evers said he believes economic development “is a hell of a lot more than a handout to big corporations.” Evers told Dems he “cleaned up the last administration’s Foxconn mess and delivered on my promise to negotiate a better deal.”
Evers also ticked off priorities that range from making high-speed internet affordable and accessible so the economy “works for everyone” to investing in “good healthcare, good roads, and good schools.” All three were central themes in Evers’ 2018 campaign.
The guv also warned Republicans “aren’t going to make this easy” and experience shows they will do “everything in their power to stop our success.”
They’ve taken me to court, they’ve jeopardized federal relief, they’ve gutted our budgets, they’ve tried to override my vetoes — and failed every time, by the way — and they’re going to continue playing politics with our recovery and doing what’s best for our state,” Evers said. “But that’s why we’re going to spend every day for the next 521 days working to win every inch and elect Democrats up and down the ballot in this state.”
Read Evers’ prepared remarks.