Wisconsin Gov. Evers launches reelection bid amid GOP attacks

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The Democrat said he is running to fight anti-democratic legislation brought by Republicans in the state Legislature.

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced over the weekend that he's seeking a second term as governor of the Badger State, saying he believes it's important for him to be reelected in order to thwart the bevy of anti-democratic legislation Republicans in the state Legislature are trying to pass.

"Even though I haven’t played much hockey, I have come to appreciate the role of being a goalie," Evers said in an interview with the Associated Press, in which he said he plans to run again.

Republicans in Wisconsin have been on an anti-democratic kick since before Evers could even be sworn into office.

In 2018 — after Evers defeated then-GOP Gov. Scott Walker, but before he could be sworn in — the Republican-controlled Legislature stripped Evers of powers and made it harder for Wisconsin citizens to vote.

At that time, the Legislature, for example, slashed the number of early voting days in the state. It also limited Evers' ability to change work requirement rules for programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, and it banned the state's attorney general from pulling Wisconsin out of a GOP-filed lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act. That lawsuit is currently pending before the Supreme Court.

Those power grabs didn't stop after Evers took office.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the GOP-led Legislature also tried to limit Evers' ability to declare public health emergencies amid the pandemic, including pushing to revoke his statewide mask mandate.

"If the Legislature keeps playing politics and we don't keep wearing masks, we're going to see more preventable deaths, and it's going to take even longer to get our state and our economy back on track," Evers said in February, as Republicans in the state Assembly pushed to revoke the state's mask rules.

Evers famously issued a new mask mandate immediately after the state's GOP-driven Legislature passed a joint resolution ending his initial emergency declaration and mask requirements for the state. But he was eventually blocked from issuing a statewide mask mandate by the conservative majority on the state Supreme Court, which ruled in March that the state Legislature must approve of any future mask mandates. The court ruled against Evers' COVID restrictions three times.

And, as in other GOP-controlled state legislatures, Republicans in Wisconsin this year have proposed measures to make it harder to vote, including plans to limit who can vote by mail and requiring voters to submit ID when voting absentee.

Evers has vowed to veto any voter suppression legislation that makes it to his desk.

But that's not the only thing Evers wants to work on in a second term.

Evers also told the AP that he wants to expand Medicaid — the health insurance program for low-income Americans — as well as pass criminal justice reform and create an independent redistricting commission in the state to avoid partisan Republican gerrymanders.

"We have lots of work to do that the people of Wisconsin expect us to work on," Evers told the AP.

Evers is up for reelection in 2022 in the swing state, which President Joe Biden carried by less than 1 point in 2020, and which Donald Trump won by a similar margin four years earlier.

It's unclear who Evers' GOP challenger may be. A handful of Republicans — including former Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus — are currently mulling bids.

As of today, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race a Leans Democratic contest.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.