MADISON, Wis. — Today, the New York Times profiled what’s at stake in Wisconsin’s 2022 gubernatorial election and the importance of re-electing Gov. Tony Evers.
After losing the presidential election last year, Wisconsin Republicans launched a myriad of attacks on our democracy, spreading lies about nonexistent election fraud, and passing bills that would make it harder for eligible voters to cast their ballot. Wisconsin Republicans are now copying the widely-discredited election ‘audit’ that occurred in Arizona and wasting nearly $700,000 taxpayer dollars to prove once again Wisconsin’s elections were fair and secure.
Gov. Evers is standing as the last line of defense against these ridiculous assaults on our democracy. Earlier this year, Gov. Evers stood in the state Capitol’s rotunda and vetoed six Republican-led voter suppression bills — a stark contrast to Republican governors who have signed restrictive voting laws behind locked doors. If a radical Republican like Rebecca Kleefisch were to win the governor’s office, they’ll undoubtedly sign measures that make it more difficult for Wisconsinites to participate in the democratic process.
“The stakes are high in next year’s election — and Governor Evers is the last line of defense against Republican attempts to undermine our democracy and take back power by any means necessary,” said Tony for Wisconsin Communications Director Sam Roecker. “The right of every Wisconsinite to participate in our elections isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a fundamental right that we have to protect. Governor Evers is committed to making sure every eligible voter is able to participate in the democratic process and ensuring that Wisconsin’s elections remain fair and secure.”
Read more about how Gov. Evers is protecting our democracy below.
The New York Times: Why Democrats See 3 Governor’s Races as a Sea Wall for Fair Election
In three critical battleground states, Democratic governors have blocked efforts by Republican-controlled legislatures to restrict voting rights and undermine the 2020 election.
Now, the 2022 races for governor in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — states that have long been vital to Democratic presidential victories, including Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s — are taking on major new significance.
At stake are how easy it is to vote, who controls the electoral system and, some Democrats worry, whether the results of federal, state and local elections will be accepted no matter which party wins.
That has left Govs. Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania standing alone, in what is already expected to be a difficult year for their party, as what Democrats view as a sea wall against a rising Republican tide of voting restrictions and far-reaching election laws.
The question of who wins their seats in 2022 — Mr. Evers and Ms. Whitmer are running for re-election, while Mr. Wolf is term-limited — has become newly urgent in recent weeks as Republicans in all three states, spurred on by former President Donald J. Trump, make clearer than ever their intent to reshape elections should they take unified control.
Republicans have aggressively pursued partisan reviews of the 2020 election in each state. In Pennsylvania, G.O.P. lawmakers sought the personal information of every voter in the state last month. In Wisconsin, a conservative former State Supreme Court justice, who is investigating the 2020 election results on behalf of the State Assembly, issued subpoenas on Friday for voting-related documents from election officials. And in Michigan on Sunday night, Ms. Whitmer vetoed four election bills that she said “would have perpetuated the ‘big lie’ or made it harder for Michiganders to vote.”
“I would’ve never guessed that my job as governor when I ran a couple years ago was going to be mainly about making sure that our democracy is still intact in this state,” said Mr. Evers, a former Wisconsin schools superintendent. He was elected governor in the Democratic wave of 2018 on a platform of increasing education spending and expanding Medicaid.
He and Ms. Whitmer are seeking re-election while vying to preserve the voting system, which was not built to withstand a sustained partisan assault, in the face of intensifying Republican challenges to the routine administration of elections. Mr. Wolf cannot seek a third term, but his Democratic heir apparent, Josh Shapiro, the Pennsylvania attorney general, has been on the forefront of legal efforts to defend the 2020 election results for nearly a year.
The shift from focusing on traditional Democratic issues like health care and education to assuring fair elections is starkest for Mr. Evers, a man so aggressively staid that he’s partial to vanilla ice cream.
Last week, as he walked through a row of black-and-white Holstein cows at the World Dairy Expo, he predicted that if he were defeated next year, Republican legislators would have a direct path to reverse the results of the 2024 election.
“The stakes are damn high,” Mr. Evers said above the din of mooing and milking at Madison’s annual dairy trade show. “This is about our democracy. It’s frightening.”
The message that democracy itself is on the line is a potentially powerful campaign pitch for Mr. Evers and his fellow Democrats, one he has used in fund-raising appeals.
“It’s full of hyperbole and exaggeration, which is what the Democrats do best on this election stuff,” Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, said in an interview last week at the State Capitol. “All we’re trying to do is make sure that people who were elected were elected legitimately.”
Mr. Vos said he was still not sure if President Biden had legitimately won the state. (Mr. Biden carried it by more than 20,000 votes.)
It would not take much to swing statewide elections in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Four of the last six presidential contests in Wisconsin have been decided by fewer than 23,000 votes. Other than Barack Obama, no presidential nominee has won more than 51 percent of the vote in any of the three states since 1996.
And in Wisconsin, Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican who served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Scott Walker until 2019, is challenging Mr. Evers with a campaign platform that calls for shifting responsibility for the state’s elections from the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, which her and Mr. Walker’s administration created in 2016, to the G.O.P.-controlled Legislature. Ms. Kleefisch declined to comment.
Mr. Vos said he had not thought about the degree to which Wisconsin Republicans could change voting laws if the state had a Republican governor. But this year, the State Legislature passed a package of six bills that would have enacted a range of new voting restrictions.
Mr. Evers vetoed them all.
“I’ve learned to play goalie in this job,” he said. “And I’ll continue to do that.”