Democratic Wisconsin state schools superintendent Tony Evers has ground out a narrow win over Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, denying the once-powerful governor a third term helming the major swing state.
Evers led Walker by 49.7 percent to 48.3 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race, with the margin of more than 34,000 votes appears to be too wide for Walker to overcome — or to demand a recount.
Walker, who was reviled on the left and beloved on the right for smashing public-sector unions in his state, survived a recall election and ground out a close 2014 reelection win. But he’s finally fallen this year in a more favorable national environment for Democrats. His race and a win in Michigan are the two big swing-state prizes for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, as they fell just short in Iowa, Florida and Ohio.
Evers, a soft-spoken and sometimes stiff politician, warmed to his role as the race went on. He flayed Walker for backing major education cuts and blasted him for failing to improve Wisconsin’s crumbling infrastructure, dubbing the state highways’ many potholes “Scott-holes.”
Walker responded by looking to tie Evers to his party’s hard left, attacking him for calling for criminal justice reform by accusing him of wanting to release hardened criminals on the streets.
But it wasn’t enough in closely divided Wisconsin, as Evers ground out a hard-fought win against the polarizing governor in the deeply polarized state. He also may have benefited from coattails from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who won her race by a double-digit margin. Those results show Democrats that they can win there once again after eight years in the wilderness and a heartbreaking loss at the presidential level there in 2016.