Election results: ‘Boring wins,’ Red Wave falters

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 9, 2022

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — The so-called red wave turned into an election night struggle for Republicans, with Gov. Tony Evers winning a second term and the GOP-led Legislature’s hopes for a veto-proof supermajority apparently coming up short.

Meanwhile, it appeared early Wednesday morning that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) had enough votes to defeat far left Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes in a must-have Senate race for Republican dreams of taking back control of the U.S. Senate.

Johnson led by about 40,000 votes, or 1.4 percentage points, with 98 percent of precincts reporting. Even with a long-delayed batch of votes still waiting in Wauwatosa, it looked like Johnson had enough to pull out a victory for a third term.

NewsNation called the race for Johnson but most media outlets refused to do so. Clearly irritated, Johnson early Wednesday morning thanked his supporters and said he would declare victory later this morning when the vote count is final.

“We looked very closely at the numbers and feel confident (Barnes) can’t make up the gap,” Johnson said. “I don’t know why they’re not going to call it.”

The senator, appearing to have survived a very expensive and nasty campaign by Barnes and his allies, said he believes “this time truth has prevailed over the lies, over the character assassinations.”

In Wisconsin’s race for governor, Republican businessman Tim Michels trailed Evers the whole night. Down by 3 percentage points, or about 77,000 votes, with most precincts reporting, Michels said, “Unfortunately the math doesn’t add up.”

Michels ran into the math of Madison and Dane County, with the liberal bastion reportedly turning out more than 85 percent of voters. Evers took nearly 79% of the vote to Michels’ paltry 21 percent, a more than 170,000 vote difference. Meanwhile, Michels underperformed in traditionally strong conservative areas of the state, particularly the so-called WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington counties).

“In hindsight, I don’t know what we would have done differently,” Michels told his stunned supporters in a brief concession speech.

The hindsight questions will surely be the stuff of discussion on conservative talk radio shows and within the Republican Party of Wisconsin in the days ahead. But spending certainly was a factor. In the most expensive governor’s race in Badger State history, the Evers campaign outspent team Michels nearly 2-to-1, or about $42.7 million to $24.5 million, as of Nov. 3.

Overall, the campaigns and special interest groups spent a combined $115 million-plus this election cycle, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Evers sounded triumphant in his victory speech, thanking his liberal base for “showing up.” The liberal signaled he will double down on his radical left agenda, on everything from bigger government and climate change alarmism to social engineering. Bumbling his way through his speech, Evers insisted his victory staved off a threat to democracy, which he declared was “on the brink of existence (he meant, hyperbolically of course, extinction).”

Despite leading a dysfunctional administration that has made life miserable for many Wisconsinites, Evers claimed he has always tried to “do the right thing.”

“Some people call it boring, but you know what Wisconsin? As it turns out, boring wins,” Evers said.

Mr. Boring positioned himself as the blue wall against the Republican-dominated Legislature’s conservative agenda and a savior for abortion-on-demand following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. Evers vetoed a record number of bills in his first term. And it appeared Republicans would not secure the veto-proof supermajorities they needed to render Evers’ veto pen useless.

Evers will have a new lieutenant governor: State Rep. Sara Rodriguez, a Brookfield liberal.

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