Wisconsin’s state education superintendent Tony Evers won the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday evening and will have the chance to take down longtime incumbent GOP Gov. Scott Walker in November.
Evers, 66, beat out seven other candidates with 38.9 percent of the vote in a crowded pool that once included over a dozen Democrats, from businessmen to firefighter chiefs.
Walker won the GOP gubernatorial primary on Tuesday with 94.1 percent of the vote against Robert Meyer, the 61-year-old publisher.
Walker has been governor since 2010 and is seeking his third term, but numbers show his favorability has dropped since his failed 2016 presidential run, and an April poll put him in the top 10 least favored governors in the U.S., with an approval rating below 50 percent.
Even though President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 with 47.2 percent of the vote, Democrats are hoping to make this state part of their blue wave takeover in November.
Evers was seen as a slight frontrunner because of his name recognition after winning three superintendent elections in the past nine years with at least 57 percent of the vote each time, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s political science department, Geoff Peterson, told the Leader-Telegram.
He was the state’s only Democratic candidate who has appeared on a statewide ballot before.
Earlier in April, Walker warned of a Democratic “blue wave” after a liberal judge beat a conservative for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. (RELATED: Scott Walker Warns Of Blue Wave After Candidate He Endorsed Lost To Liberal Judge)
Tonight’s results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI. The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred — we must counter it with optimism & organization. Let’s share our positive story with voters & win in November.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) April 4, 2018
A crowded field such as this one potentially makes it difficult for constituents to really get to know any one candidate and it lessens the effect of donations, according to 3rd District GOP Chairman Brian Westrate.
“I guarantee you that no party would prefer to have an eight-way race this long, especially when running against a sitting multi-term incumbent,” he told the Leader-Telegram.
In contrast, some Democrats are seeing the multitude of candidates as a result of an energized party that is ready to flip seats in November.
“We have a variety of good candidates to choose from, and on Tuesday we narrow that to one,” said Lisa Herrmann, chairwoman of the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Party.
“As soon as that happens, we’ll all get behind that candidate and gear up to beat Walker in the fall,” she added.
Democratic runners up included Mahlon Mitchell, president of the state’s Professional Firefighters Association, backed by Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and former state Rep. Kelda Roys, who had a large fundraising haul and was backed by Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Other candidates included Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, political activist Mike McCabe, former state Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn and attorney Josh Pade.
State Rep. Dana Wachs, who was in the gubernatorial race until dropping out in June, endorsed Evers, telling the Leader-Telegram that she “endorsed Tony because I think he will be the strongest Democratic candidate in the fall, he’s a very good human being and his heart is in the right place.”
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