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.
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.)