Good Vibes for Evers

Now that the smoke is clearing from the divisive Republican gubernatorial primary, the path to reelection for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is becoming somewhat clearer.

I have five takeaways from the day after the election that bode well for Evers.

First, the divisions in the Republican Party seem to be hardening. I was pleasantly surprised at how Speaker Robin Vos came out swinging after he narrowly defeated a challenger endorsed by both Donald Trump and Micheal Gableman. He called Gableman, “an embarrassment to Wisconsin.” And he said that his win in the primary over Adam Steen proved that lawmakers “don’t have to be a lapdog to whatever Donald Trump says.” It’s not clear whether Vos made those comments before or after he was pictured chugging from a bottle of champagne.

In any event, a party split between Trump acolytes and Trump deniers can only be good for Evers.

Robin Vos celebrates after beating Adam Steen… and Donald Trump and Micheal Gableman.

Second, speaking of coming out swinging, Evers did just that the day after Michels was crowned. It’s clear he won’t let Michels proclaim Trump’s endorsement from the hilltops in the primary and then try to distance himself from him in the general. Evers has made it clear that it’s going to be the Trump-Michels ticket, and Trump’s not getting any more popular with swing voters.

Third, Evers has a strong teammate in Lt. Gov. nominee Sara Rodriguez. She has won an Assembly seat in a bluish district and she’ll help with the Hispanic vote. That’s especially important because Democrats have been losing Hispanic support steadily over the last few elections.

Fourth, Michels is easily attacked for not being much of a Wisconsinite. He owns a $17 million mansion in Connecticut and he didn’t vote in Wisconsin (or anywhere else) in the 2016 election. And when Michels attacks Wisconsin’s “horrible” public education, maybe he’ll be asked to explain why he doesn’t have first hand experience with those horrors since his kids went to high schools in Connecticut.

And fifth, in an era of negative partisanship where voters vote against the other party more than they vote for their own, Evers doesn’t play the role of the scary leftist radical. He’s an understated, Eucher and Pickleball playing former school principal. And as an incumbent, voters know who he is. It will be hard for Michels to link him with unpopular, hard-left Democrats, like AOC.

Given my record on predictions, I will refrain from saying that Evers will win in November. In fact, if I want him to win I probably should call the race for Michels. But I like where Evers is positioned right now.

(Note: An earlier version misspelled champagne. I was confusing what Vos was drinking with the college town in Illinois. Thanks to readers for pointing out my error, though the snark was hurtful.)


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

7 thoughts on “Good Vibes for Evers

  1. Great column. I find your relatively positive spin on Speaker Vos interesting. I met him once to thank him for his support for a program that I don’t think he liked very much. And I didn’t like what I regarded as his overly partisan gerrymandering politics. So we both seemed surprised when we found that we kind of got along! I think your introducing the matter of degree as a consideration is important. But then again, he rewrote the powers of state offices just because his party lost an election. Changing the rules to suit yourself is a pet peeve of mine. I can agree to disagree on outcomes, but I find screwing with the process pretty unforgivable. I just hate the idea that the rules depend on who you are.


    1. Yep. I read Vos as your standard ruthless, self-obsessed pol, but not a crazy election denier. He finally said what I thought he thought all along about Gableman. Maybe the champaign helped.


  2. Robin Vos is a little like Liz Cheney in that I can’t believe that I agree with him, even occasionally. I was glad that he won and especially pleased that he ripped Gableman, who truly is an embarrassment. The champagne, not the city that is home to Bret Bielema’s Fighting Illini, might have helped.
    One difference between Vos and L. Cheney is that he (barely) survived his divorce from Trump. It looks like Liz will be a former US representative next January. We’ll find out next week. Maybe Wyoming will surprise us.


  3. Hmm…Sara Rodriguez is married to a Hispanic, but she’s not Hispanic herself. Either way, I don’t think anybody really pays attention to the LG candidate. It’s certainly not a reason anyone decides to vote.

    Also, what is Champaign? Is that some kind of Champagne knock off from Illinois?


      1. If some up and comer was really smart they’d change their last name before the next big election.

        Steven Olikara may be a “nope” but Steven La Follette is compelling!


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