MADISON – Governor Tony Evers launched his bid for re-election on Saturday calling himself the state’s “real governor of education” and focusing on road repairs, helping small businesses and making health care more affordable.
“Wisconsin, I’m here. I’m running for re-election. We’ve accomplished a lot in recent years, but we’re just getting started,” Evers said at the state’s Democratic Party virtual convention.
The first-term governor reminded supporters he was using his powers to prevent Republicans who control the legislature from restricting access to abortion, limiting voting opportunities, and drawing congressional and legislative districts that favor their party in elections.
“There is a veto pen to protect and we have bags to prepare for (US Senator) Ron Johnson. So, holy pimp, we will need your help to start over in 2022,” Evers said.
Evers launched its campaign just days after signaling that he would run again by announcing his campaign team.
His campaign for next year may be different from that of 2018, as Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is likely to run for the US Senate.
Barnes, who gave his own prime-time speech at the convention, is expected to announce soon whether he is staying with Evers or joining the busy primary race for the Senate seat owned by Johnson. The two-term senator did not say if he will run for a third term.
As it has done in the past, Evers has focused its attention on infrastructure and healthcare. He stressed the need to improve roads, expand broadband and make more people eligible for the BadgerCare Plus health program. The change in health care would bring in an additional $ 1.6 billion to the state more than two years due to additional federal assistance that would become available.
Evers served for nearly a decade as the superintendent of public schools before defeating the then governor. Scott Walker in 2018. In Saturday’s speech, he made a passing reference to Walker, who drew criticism in 2018 from Democrats for calling himself “the governor of education. “
âDo you remember the last guy who tried to tell you he was the governor of education? Please. As a true governor of education, let me tell you, we believe in funding integral part of our public schools, âEvers said. “We believe that every child deserves access to public early childhood education at our universities and technical colleges.”
His comments came as he finds himself in a budget battle with lawmakers over education funding. The Legislative Budget Committee agreed a week and a half ago to increase funding for schools by $ 128 million, which is less than a tenth of what Evers was looking for.
The US Department of Education has warned lawmakers it could claw back $ 1.5 billion in coronavirus aid for Wisconsin schools if they don’t invest more public funds in education.
Republican lawmakers plan to finalize their version of the budget this month and Evers threatened to veto his plan if that endangers federal aid.
Republicans, Evers get stuck
The deadlock is the latest example of the Republicans’ agenda thwarting Evers. The governor noted that he had also blocked Republicans’ priorities while admitting that they had kept him from doing much of what he wanted.
âThe Republicans will do everything in their power to stop our success, to stop us from moving things forward, to keep Wisconsin on the right track,â he said.
“They took me to court, they compromised federal aid, they drained our budgets, they tried to override my veto – and failed every time, by the way – and they will continue to. play politics with our recovery and do what’s best for our condition. “
While Republicans have kept many of its plans at bay, Evers can move some forward using billions of dollars in federal aid the state is receiving due to the pandemic. Republicans don’t have an easy way to control how these funds are spent, and Evers uses much of it to helping small businesses and expanding broadband access to rural Wisconsin.
On the Republican side, former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, lobbyist Bill McCoshen and former Navy Kevin Nicholson are considering running for governor. Political newcomer Jonathan Wichmann is the only Republican to officially enter the race so far.
GOP denounces “lack of leadership”
Andrew Hitt, the state Republican Party chairman, criticized Evers for months behind in getting some Wisconsin unemployment benefits and said he had done too little to reopen schools and address a labor shortage.
âEvers has nothing to run on except a record of abysmal failures and lack of leadership,â Hitt said in a statement.
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Preya Samsundar said in a statement that Democrats should have met in person rather than virtually.
âDemocrats should focus on listening to science, reopening the state and making an appearance in Wisconsin,â she said.
Biden thanks voters for Wisconsin victory
For his part, Barnes has vowed both to re-elect Evers and to ensure Johnson does not return to Washington.
“I remain 100% determined to work with all my energy to ensure that Tony Evers is re-elected, to continue the hard work that we have already started, and I will also do everything in my power to ensure that Democratic voters are showing up to finally retire Ron Johnson, âhe said.
In a pre-recorded video, President Joe Biden thanked Wisconsin Democrats for delivering the state’s electoral votes for him.
âYou have shown the world what America is really made of – to oppose the politics of division and the politics of hate,â he said.
In a series of short speeches throughout the night, Wisconsin’s main Democrats urged their supporters to make sure they re-elect Evers and return Johnson’s Senate seat to their column.
“We have to send Ron Johnson back to the planet he came from,” said US Representative Mark Pocan of rural Dane County.
Speakers also praised Evers for his ability to veto legislative and congressional constituency cards that could give Republicans the upper hand in the next decade’s election.
“When they send this card to the governor’s office, Tony will be waiting there, all of you, with an ink pen, dripping with blood ink,” said US Representative Gwen Moore of Milwaukee.
Democrats have also pushed back on Republicans’ efforts to tighten voting rules and false allegations that Donald Trump was cheated in last year’s election.
“We are facing a Republican Party that poses an existential threat to the survival of our democracy. They operate under a philosophy that if they cannot beat us, they will cheat us,” said the representative of the United States. . Ron Kind of La Crosse.