Wisconsin: Defend Federal Elections and Abortion Rights!

by Barbara Head, August 12, 2022.

Wisconsin, traditionally one of the three Democratic-leaning Blue Wall states, is now a fierce battleground for the control of our rights and federal elections. Wisconsin is arguably the most heavily gerrymandered state and as a result, it has one of the most radical Republican legislatures. The state also has two of the most important elections in 2022: Democratic Governor Tony Evers (vs. Trump-endorsed Tim Michels) and Republican Senator Ron Johnson (vs. Democrat Mandela Barnes). Both races will be close, and we must do everything in our power to keep Tony in and kick Ron out! 

Tony Evers for re-election as governor:

Extremist legislators in Wisconsin have been held at bay by the Democratic governor, Tony Evers, who is up for re-election in 2022. Evers has fought the legislature tooth and nail on many important issues, including abortion rights in Wisconsin. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, trigger laws in this state have criminalized abortion under the guidelines of an 1849 law, which is now in effect. Evers and the attorney general Josh Kaul have announced their plans to file a lawsuit to challenge Wisconsin’s mid-19th century abortion ban. Evers also defied the ban directly by stating that as governor, he will grant clemency to abortion providers in the state who are prosecuted under the current law.

Whichever candidate wins the Republican primary must be defeated to keep Tony Evers where he belongs – in the Wisconsin governor’s office.

Like other Democratic governors, Evers’ challenge is disaffection with President Biden and issues, such as inflation, that have damaged Democrats politically nationwide. However, most Wisconsinites felt he did a good job with Covid and appear to agree with him on major issues including education, crime, and immigration.

In the August 9 primary, Trump-endorsed Tim Michels beat Rebecca Kleefisch, who was endorsed by Ted Cruz and Mike Pence. This may be an advantageous choice for Michels, whose CV is considerably thinner than Kleefisch, a former Wisconsin Lt Gov. However, Michels is running a largely self-funded campaign, pouring millions from his own coffers to defeat Tony Evers, who relies on grassroots support. We must not let Tony Evers down!

Senator Ron Johnson vs. Lt Gov. Mandela Barnes for Senate:

In addition to abortion, our voting rights and election integrity are also in the Republican crosshairs in Wisconsin. Senator Ron Johnson, a dedicated Trump follower and election denier, has been urging the state legislature to assert their “authority,” dissolve the bipartisan election commission, and take over federal elections in Wisconsin. Attempting this move would be illegal and result in court challenges from Evers and others, but Johnson continues to urge the radical Republican legislature to subvert federal elections. 

Johnson, who is running for re-election in 2022, is the second most unpopular  Senator in the country (first is Mitch McConnell). Johnson is viewed by many constituents as a dangerous crackpot who deals in conspiracy theories and lies and peddles utter nonsense. During the pandemic, Johnson attacked or dismissed medical experts and health agencies, promoted bogus Covid treatments (“just gargle with mouthwash”), and rejected the push for vaccination. Johnson has even had his YouTube account suspended for violating medical misinformation policies. He is anti-abortion and has told pregnant women to leave the state if they don’t like the Wisconsin abortion law. 

Democrats have a very strong candidate in the well-respected Mandela Barnes, who has a good chance of beating Johnson to become the first Black Senator from the state.

Fortunately, Johnson’s unpopularity presents a golden opportunity for Democrats in the 2022 Congressional elections. Some Wisconsin Republicans express concern that Johnson will lose his seat, and their fears may not be unfounded. The Democrats have a very strong candidate in the well-respected Mandela Barnes, who has a good chance of beating Johnson to become the first Black Senator from the state. Barnes has high name recognition and is as popular as Johnson is unpopular.  As winner of the Democratic primary, Barnes is now in a very good position to take on Johnson in November. Such a flip would  provide another much-needed Senate seat for the Democrats, and it would help to bring Wisconsin closer to its roots as a Blue Wall state.