APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV)-With the primary in the rearview mirror, Wisconsin political candidates are now focused on the Nov. 8 general election.
Governor Tony Evers spent Wednesday afternoon with supporters at the Democratic Party of Outagamie County building in Appleton.
Attorney General Josh Kaul and Lieutenant Governor candidate Sara Rodriguez joined Evers in Appleton.
On Tuesday night, Wisconsin businessman Tim Michels won the Republican gubernatorial primary over former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch setting up a general election showdown with Evers.
At the beginning of June, former president Donald Trump endorsed Michels.
During Ever’s campaign stop in Appleton Wednesday and during Michels victory speech Tuesday night both said they were excited for the next 90 days leading up to the general election.
“We’ve done a lot, we’ve accomplished a lot in these last four years, here’s the deal folks, I am jazzed about this race,” said Evers.
He listed investments in roads, public safety, and high-speed internet as well as creating jobs and helping small businesses recover after the pandemic as some of his accomplishments.
“You are now going to have a governor who is going to stand up for the hard working tax paying law abiding citizens of Wisconsin,” said Michels.
Jerald Podair is a history professor and election expert at Lawrence University in Appleton.
He told Local Five News he expects that a big part of Michels’ strategy will be portraying Evers as soft on crime and blaming him for the problems with the economy. He said he thinks that Evers will focus on abortion rights and point at Republicans’ efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Podair believes that Evers will continue to try to portray himself as a down-to-Earth guy and as somebody willing to work across the aisle.
“Pound away on the issues that favor you and try to negate the issues that don’t,” said Podair.
Podair said that Trump’s endorsement proved decisive in Michel’s primary win over Kleefisch, but that the endorsement has less of an impact in the general election.
The two gubernatorial candidates have already begun taking shots at each other.
“I’ll tell you what Tony Evers, he’s failed the people of Wisconsin, from COVID-19 to Kenosha he’s been a weak leader,” said Michels.
“He (Michels) locks himself into being this radical right wing person that I believe isn’t consistent with the values of Wisconsinites,” said Evers.
The Republican National Committee also said in a statement that “from proposed tax hikes, cuts to school choice, and soft-on-crime policies, Wisconsinites aren’t interested in Tony Evers and Sara Rodriguez’s malarkey.”
Evers has called Michels a “danger to our democracy” and a “decisive and extreme candidate.”
The other big race in Wisconsin is for the US Senate. Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes faces off against republican incumbent Ron Johnson.
With the US Senate split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, the clash between Barnes and Johnson has garnered national attention as a race that could swing the balance in the Senate and give one party a numbers advantage over the other.
If Barnes were to beat Johnson, he would become the first African American US Senator from the state of Wisconsin.
Shortly after Barnes officially won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night, Johnson released a statement attacking his opponent.
Barnes mentioned Johnson in his victory speech.
“Now we know that Ron Johnson may say some crazy things, but what he’s doing in Washington is no joke, it’s downright dangerous,” said Barnes.
Barnes accepted the Democrat nomination for the US Senate seat on Tuesday night. After his three main challengers, state treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, and Outagamie County executive Tom Nelson all dropped out at the end of July, the expectation was that Barnes would win in a landslide in the primary.
Godlewski, Lasry, and Nelson have all endorsed Barnes. He has also received endorsements from people on the national stage like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker.
“What both sides are going to do is to convince the independents that the other side is way too extreme,” said Podair.
Podair said he thinks that both races will be very close and he expects the attack ads on television to intensify in the next couple months.
He said he expects voter turnout to be high in November.