The early signs for Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ re-election chances are not good.
The Crystal Ball Report from The University of Virginia Center for Politics announced their latest ratings for gubernatorial races across the country in 2022. Wisconsin’s contest for governor is one of four toss-ups nationally.
From Crystal Ball:
Wisconsin shouldn’t see an open seat contest in 2022, but, as usual, we expect the state to host a competitive race. In 2018, in their fourth attempt, Badger State Democrats finally defeated now-former Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI). But after taking office, Gov. Tony Evers (D-WI), a generally inoffensive Democrat who is expected to run again, has constantly battled with a hostile legislature. Though they’ve fought over several items, the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated the fault lines between Evers and state Republicans. In the earlier months of the pandemic, legislative Republicans challenged a stay-at-home order that Evers issued — on a partisan vote, the GOP-friendly state Supreme Court sided against the governor. More recently, last month, Republicans, with their large majorities in the state legislature, repealed a mask mandate that Evers put into place.
Former Rep. Sean Duffy (R, WI-7), who held down a rural district in the northern part of the state for much of the last decade, is sometimes mentioned as a gubernatorial candidate. Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who’s been noncommittal on his 2022 plans, suggested that he’s leaning towards retirement. The Senate race, without Johnson, would likely attract some ambitious Republicans, but in this sharply divided state, we have to imagine Republicans will find a quality recruit. In 2020, Biden carried the state by outperforming Evers in the suburban counties around Milwaukee — known to political junkies as the “WOW” counties. If Evers can’t match Biden in those suburbs, he will need to retain as much of his rural appeal as he can.
The rating from Crystal Ball follows a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, that found Gov. Evers even with a generic Republican candidate:
- If the election for Governor were held today, would you vote for Democrat Tony Evers, or would you vote for his Republican opponent
- Would vote for Tony Evers………………………. 45%
- Would vote for his Republican opponent ……. 44%
- Not sure ………………………………………………. 11%
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is likely to run. Also considering a run are former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, former Congressman Sean Duffy, businessman Kevin Nicholson, Congressman Bryan Steil, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.
Evers has not announced if he will seek re-election in 2022.