‘Holy Mackerel, Folks’: Wisconsin Re-Elects Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, Derails Push for School Vouchers

With GOP challenger Tim Michels’ plan for universal vouchers off the table, the Badger State’s purple stalemate on all things schools continues

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In Wisconsin, the first surprise served up by the midterms was the re-election of Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers, in a state where electoral maps are controlled by the GOP. 

The second was that the race was decided before most voters turned off the news and went to bed. The third: Republican challenger Tim Michels, who had continued to cast doubt on President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, conceded. 

“Unfortunately, the math doesn’t add up,” Michels told supporters as it became apparent Evers would win by a margin of more than three points. “It wasn’t our night tonight.” 

Announcing that Michels had called to concede, Evers was equal parts giddy and folksy. “I am jazzed as hell to tell you that on Jan. 3, 2023, I will still be the 46th governor of the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “Holy mackerel, folks, how about that?”

The most expensive gubernatorial race in the state’s history, the contest had major implications for the future of education in Wisconsin. Milwaukee launched the nation’s first school voucher program 30 years ago, and private school choice programs have expanded rapidly in the state in recent years. Businessman Michels was poised to make eligibility universal. 

Evers was Wisconsin’s elected state superintendent of public instruction when then-Gov. Scott Walker succeeded in pushing through legislation sharply curtailing the state’s public-sector unions. In his first term as governor, Evers repeatedly and unsuccessfully pressed a solid red legislature for more funding for schools and vetoed conservative bills.

Strong turnout among young voters in Dane County, where Madison is located, is one reason Evers will remain in the statehouse.

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