In the race for governor, the Democratic field may be crowded, but State Superintendent Tony Evers is in the lead. Evers has served as superintendent since 2009. He has a PhD in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
Evers is confident in his prospects, given the public support he has received in past elections.
“I won three statewide races as state superintendent,” Evers said. “The last time I received 70 percent of the vote along with 70 of 72 counties.”
Evers said the support he has received from the public as superintendent is a “reaffirmation of our public schools.”
Originally from the Town of Plymouth, Evers feels as a Democratic candidate, his connection to the more rural central region of Wisconsin sets him apart.
“Fourty percent of the vote comes from the central part of the state, and I’ve lived and worked in many cities across the state,” Evers said.
Evers emphasized the importance of Madison and Milwaukee, he feels he has name recognition with voters in the central and northern sections of the state other candidates don’t.
During his time as state superintendent, Evers feels he has gained skills and experience that will translate well into the governorship. Evers emphasized the importance of funding for public education.
“It’s important to have not only adequate resources, but also have them distributed appropriately,” Evers said. “There’s other issues besides education, but that is a primary one.”
Evers is optimistic about his campaign’s fair funding plan for public education.
“Our plan is really one that recognizes poverty and other issues,” Evers said. “Those that need an extra lift get an extra lift.”
After touring schools across the state, Evers is encouraged by what he has seen.
“I’m really proud of the work that our schools do,” Evers said. “The ability for us to work to create opportunities for kids, especially in career and technical education. I think we’ve raised that to a much higher level than it was ever before.”
If he goes on the win the Democratic nomination, Evers feels he matches up well against incumbent Governor Scott Walker in the general election.
“I think I would defeat Scott Walker,” Evers said. “There’s several things that he has absolutely failed at… The idea that we’re allowing our water to be degraded across our state is something that concerns people across our state.”
Evers said he would like to cultivate a “robust and revitalized middle class” in Wisconsin.
If elected governor, Evers feels he could work across the aisle and get legislation passed with a Republican assembly.
“My ability to find common ground I think is a strength.” Evers said, “I’m confident we will be able to find agreement on the issue of roads.”
On gun control, Evers feels there is common ground to be had between liberals and conservatives.
“We have to make sure that people understand that there are things that can be agreed upon,” Evers said. “I think we have to start with a position of what we can agree on.”
Evers voiced support for enacting universal background checks, and said the majority of Wisconsinites would agree.
Foxconn is a common criticism leveled at Walker by political opponents. Some have threatened to reverse the deal if elected, but Evers feels the best path now is ensuring the deal can be improved.
“I believe it was a horrible deal,” Evers said. “I would have never done it… That said, the law is not going to change overnight. I just believe that if it is going to happen, we need as a state to hold their feet to the fire. If they’re going to have production jobs, they should be paying living wage, they should be paying benefits they should be a good corporate citizen.”
Evers said he would like to see Foxconn provide transportation for employees. “There’s lots of people in poverty who would love to have better paying jobs, and they can’t get to those jobs because they don’t have access to public transportation.”
Public transit in the Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha areas was something Evers said he would like to see Foxconn offer. “I think that’s reasonable.”
He also hopes to ensure Foxconn would maintain high energy standards and put solar panels on the roofs of their buildings.
Congressional redistricting is an issue Evers anticipates he may have to take action on if elected governor.
“Gerrymandering is a fact of life in Wisconsin,” Evers said. Evers said he would try to mitigate the effects of political gerrymandering in the state if he became governor.
“Republicans and Democrats have to take a blood oath that they’re going to create a system that is fair,” Evers said. “There’s other states that do it, we can do it too.”
A recent Marquette University poll put Evers ahead of the other Democratic candidates, but with 44 percent of respondents undecided. Evers feels they just need time.
“There’s always a time of ambivalence when people are making up their mind but I know they’re making up their mind in the right way,” Evers said. “People know Scott Walker better than they know Tony Evers, but we’ve got a long way to go until November.”
The Democratic gubernatorial primary is scheduled for Aug. 14.