With a recent legal victory in Madison and the latest Marquette Law School Poll placing him well ahead of his competitors in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, State Superintendent Tony Evers is confident about his campaign for governor.
After the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided Evers in a 4-3 decision June 27, Evers will be able to choose his own attorney to represent him in a case determining whether he has the authority to write his own education policies. Evers expressed his satisfaction during an interview with the Juneau County Star-Times at its Mauston office June 28.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty argues Evers should legally be required to seek Walker’s permission before writing new rules and regulations. He was previously forced to use representation by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel in the case, but is now able to choose his own attorney.
“It was a win for me, but I thought it was kind of a win for the people of the state,” Evers said. “I don’t think anybody in the state could believe that they would go to court and have the prosecutor also be the defense attorney. I mean how could you possibly expect to win?”
Evers feels he will now have the chance to make his case on the issue of writing his own policies.
“It allows us to argue the real case on its merits,” Evers said.
Walker recently described himself as an “education governor.” Evers is skeptical of that claim.
“He spent eight years taking money away from schools,” Evers said. “Now he’s running around the state pretending he’s the education governor. And whether it’s Mauston or any other school district, there’s no way their revenues have kept up with inflation, we’re far behind where we were.”
Evers feels Walker’s rhetoric on education has shifted because Walker believes Evers is the presumptive Democratic nominee for November.
“Education is really a top priority for the people of the state, whether it’s rural areas or Milwaukee,” Evers said.
Evers was born in Plymouth. He worked as a school principal in Tomah, as both an administrator and superintendent in Oakfield and Verona, and administrator in Oshkosh, before going on to serve as deputy state superintendent.
Evers was first elected state superintendent in 2009, securing 57 percent of the vote over Rose Fernandez’s 43 percent. He is the only candidate in the Democratic primary to have won a statewide election. Most recently, Evers won 70 percent of the vote in 2017 over challenger Lowell Holtz to a third term as state superintendent.
As a Democrat from central Wisconsin, Evers feels he can resonate better with voters outside of Milwaukee and Madison than other Democratic candidates.
“That swath over from La Crosse over to Sheboygan and then including Fox Valley, that’s 40 percent of the vote in the state,” Evers said. “And I plan not just to do well in those counties, I plan to win them.”
Dana Wachs, 91st District State Representative, recently dropped out of the Democratic primary and endorsed Evers.
“He was a great colleague on the campaign trail,” Evers said. “He’s got good Wisconsin values just like I do. I appreciate his support.”
Evers is confident he will be able to work with a Republican Assembly. He touted his record of working with Republicans on vouchers and sharing a similar view on transportation and roads.
“I think that’s something we can reach common ground on and find a common solution to it,” Evers said of the road quality in Wisconsin.
On the issue of partisan gerrymandering, Evers said he would promote competitive districts designed to avoid favoring either political party.
“Voters should be choosing elected officials, not the other way around,” Evers said. “It has to be both sides embracing it, and Democrats aren’t immune to partisanship … I think it’s up to the adults in the room here in Wisconsin to figure that out.”
If elected governor, Evers hopes to focus on reinvigorating public education, environmental protection, transportation and health care.
The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 14.