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FROSTMAN COLUMN: Races for 2022 start to form, Evers says ‘I'm in’
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FROSTMAN COLUMN: Races for 2022 start to form, Evers says ‘I'm in’

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All of Wisconsin anxiously awaited the announcement. Would he, or wouldn’t he? What would be the potential fate of our state? Over the weekend, Gov. Tony Evers answered that burning question. Reported in media across the state, Evers made the announcement at the virtual State Democratic Convention, saying, “I’m in. I’m running for re-election. We’ve accomplished a lot in the last few years, but we’re just getting started.” For many, the 2022 election can’t get here fast enough.

Evers’ announcement to seek re-election fills one of the major spots on the 2022 fall ticket. It’s very doubtful any prominent Democrats will primary Evers. On the Republican side, several prominent Republicans have been crisscrossing the state as potential candidates, such as former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, former Commerce Secretary Bill McCoshen, businessman Kevin Nicholson, and businessman Jonathan Wichmann are making the rounds already having declared. There will surely be more positioning for potential roles as a variety of races form into place. Expect a few announcements in the coming months.

Republicans will also be seeking to control the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Ron Johnson. First elected in 2010, Johnson initially stated he would serve two terms, but has not yet announced his intention for the 2022 race. With an evenly divided Senate, and what will undoubtedly be a close race, there is certainly rationale in having Johnson continue his work on behalf of the people of Wisconsin. Republicans are waiting to see what Johnson will do.

With Evers’ announcement filling the governor’s race, a number of Democrats will seek to unseat Johnson. A June 6 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story from the Democratic Convention brought the latest, as six candidates stated their cases, including Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Wausau radiologist Gillain Battino, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, State Sen. Chris Larson, and Steven Olikara, who has not declared, but formed an exploratory committee. There may be more, and stay tuned for revelry as they try to “out-left” each other. The Republican Party of Wisconsin response from Chair Andrew Hitt targeted Lasry and Godlewski, calling Lasry a “trust fund baby…who has skated through life thanks to a billionaire father…..and D.C. consultant Sarah Godlewski who continues to give Wisconsinites new reasons not to trust her.”

Another key race in 2022 will be for attorney general. Republicans already have two solid candidates declared and actively campaigning. Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Ryan Owens both have impressive credentials. Wispolitics stories on April 28 stated, Toney has “more than 50 law enforcement officials supporting his bid,” and a June 6 story stated, “Owens has received the endorsement of four recent Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices, as well as three former Republican Assembly Speakers.”

Toney stated, “Josh Kaul has put up roadblocks for local law enforcement seeking justice,” and Owens stated, “I’m running to stand up for the rule of law and against a growing intolerance. We need an Attorney General who will defend freedom against those who attack it.” Regardless of who you support, either candidate would be a massive step up from the seemingly absent and ineffectual Kaul.

Congressional races are also starting to form. The most notable is western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, where Derrick Van Orden is once again challenging long-time Congressman Ron Kind. VanOrden lost to Kind in 2020 by less than 3%, so the race will be one to watch. According to information available at clerk.house.gov, both Kind, and 2nd Congressional District Congressman Mark Pocan have frequently employed the recently granted voting “by proxy” authorized in 2020 under H.R. 965.

Congressional races, and certainly State Assembly and Senate races to be decided in 2022 will still largely be in flux for the next few months. Congressional district boundaries and all state legislative districts will have territories redrawn based on the results of the 2020 census. Challenges with the ability to complete the census will delay this reapportionment, so both incumbents and potential challengers await those all-important boundaries before making their own declarations of candidacy.

Coming soon, the folks residing in the 37th Assembly District will have a chance to go to the polls in a Special Election Primary on June 15 to fill the seat of now-Senator John Jagler. It features 10 candidates on the ballot, so trying to gauge the race and enthusiasm is a tall order.

These pages often involve election talk. It’s no secret I’d look forward to a repeat of a “One Term Tony” like Tony Earl back in the early 80s. Regardless of your opinion, take the time to get educated on candidates and positions as we once again head to the polls.

Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo, and has roots throughout Wisconsin. Opinions herein are exclusively his own. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at scfrostman@gmail.com.

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