In case you were doing something important this weekend like getting a pedicure, enjoying the warm weather, watching an old movie, going to a bar to watch the Milwaukee Bucks, or getting your back-hair waxed, Governor Tony Evers announced at a “virtual” state Democratic Party convention he is running for re-election.
You’ll note that Evers just got the announcement out before his 8:00 PM bedtime. Someone else on Twitter noted that it seemed like Evers was trying to time the announcement for the Milwaukee Bucks halftime show. That’s probably giving Evers too much credit.
Those of you who like a politician condescendingly pretending to be one of the common people by saying “folks” and “holy mackerel” all of the time must be thrilled. We should also expect Evers to quickly receive the endorsements of small businesses specializing in putting up plywood in storefront windows, firefighting equipment salesmen and teachers union representatives.
The governor is promising to stop the Republican agenda, spend more money on public schools, protect legalized abortion and something-something-about-maps that voters don’t care about.
Evers’ re-election effort is a run against recent history. The last governor to win re-election while his party held the White House was Gov. Tommy Thompson. Evers barely won in 2018 despite a Republican in the White House, an agenda-less incumbent in the Capitol, and a really awful U.S. Senate campaign by the Republicans. A poll in February by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, showed Evers running neck-and-neck with “Generic Republican.” Voters would choose Evers 45% to 44% with 11% undecided.
Unfortunately, Republicans don’t have a “Generic Republican” in a plain box stored away somewhere.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin will have to run an actual person. So far, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and former Thompson staff member Bill McCoshen are likely running, with businessman and ex-Marine Kevin Nicholson also considering running if Sen. Ron Johnson runs for re-election. Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus could also be considering a run.
Coincidentally, Evers’ announcement fell on the anniversary of Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the Recall Election of 2012. When Walker won, the state Republican Party was a party with a positive political agenda, defending a major reform from the petulant Democrats who invaded the state Capitol in protest to try to stop the bill.
Ten years later, Republicans will have to defend themselves for supporting a riot that had far more serious implications, the violent attempt to prevent the certification of a presidential election and the peaceful transfer of power. Republicans are trying to hide from this record, but the state legislature keeps pursuing the “big lie” that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” Democrats are already tying Derrick Van Orden, the GOP candidate in the 3rd Congressional District, to the riot at the Capitol on January 6.
The Republican gubernatorial primary will likely be a replay of the 2018 U.S. Senate primary when Nicholson took on state Sen. Leah Vukmir, only worse. The winning candidate will have to claim that they’re more Trumpy than the most die-hard Trump supporters. It’s not enough to be loyal to Trump. The successful GOP primary candidate has to be as wacky as the latest conspiracy theory. Events like the upcoming rally in New Richmond will only help the Democrats paint the Republicans as anti-democratic nuts.
Evers has an awful record as governor and can be defeated – if the Republicans don’t insist on defeating themselves.