Democratic Gov. Tony Evers defeated Republican challenger and construction executive Tim Michels to secure a second term as Wisconsin’s governor early Wednesday morning.
Evers, a former public school teacher and state superintendent, held a 3-point lead over Michels when the Associated Press called the race shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday. While Evers initially led Michels by three points in a Marquette Law School poll from September, a Nov. 2 Marquette poll found the race tied heading into Election Day.
The Democratic governor thanked his supporters and family for their dedication in his victory speech at the Orpheum Theater in Madison.
“I’m jazzed as hell to tell you that on January 3, 2023, I will still be the 46th governor of the great state of Wisconsin,” Evers said. “Holy mackerel, how about that.”
“I’ve worked hard to keep [my] promises and do the right thing. That’s who I am, and that’s who I’ve always been,” he added. “Some people call it boring, but you know what, Wisconsin, as it turns out — boring wins.”
Michels called Evers early Wednesday morning to formally concede the race, according to Evers. The Republican challenger delivered his concession speech to supporters gathered at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee shortly after midnight Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“Looking back, I don’t know what we would have done differently. It was a very spirited effort,” Michels said. “But it wasn’t our night tonight.”
“You saw our democracy was on the brink of existence, and you decided to do a damn thing about it,” Evers told supporters in his victory speech Wednesday.
Evers made defending democracy a central theme of his campaign, characterizing himself as a “goalie” blocking bills from the Republican-controlled Legislature. The Democratic governor vetoed nearly 150 bills during his first term in office, according to the Journal Sentinel, some of which would have curtailed access to the ballot box and imposed further restrictions on abortion.
Republicans appear unlikely to pick up enough seats for a legislative supermajority, according to PBS Wisconsin. However, the party will retain commanding control of the Assembly and Senate, meaning Evers will likely have to contend with another four years of intense Republican opposition and partisan gridlock.
Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:41 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9.
Tyler Katzenberger is the managing editor at The Daily Cardinal. As a former state news editor, he covered numerous protests and wrote state politics, healthcare, business and in-depth stories. Follow him on Twitter at @tk_kutz.
Gavin Escott is a photographer and staff writer for multiple desks at The Daily Cardinal, focusing on city and state news. Follow him on Twitter at @gav_escott.