Op Ed

Democrats Need Alternative to Evers

His lack of imagination, lack of courage, lack of strategic thinking is just stunning.

By - Jul 11th, 2021 10:45 am
Gov. Tony Evers. File photo by Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch.

Gov. Tony Evers. File photo by Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Watch.

Democrats deserve a choice. Do they want to nominate Tony Evers again and, at best, get four more years of wishy-washy or do they want to take a chance on actually making a difference?

Tony Evers is the Stockholm Syndrome Democrat. For the second time in two chances he signed a Republican budget that bears no likeness whatsoever to what he sent them. It, as you would expect, slashes taxes for the rich, underfunds public education, continues to make Wisconsin the only Midwestern state that has not expanded Medicaid and squanders the governor’s only piece of leverage to get fair legislative maps, which all but guarantees another decade of Republican majorities.

The lack of imagination, the lack of courage, the lack of strategic thinking in this administration is just stunning. If I’m forced to vote for Evers again in November of 2022, will I? Of course, simply because any Republican alternative would be worse. But really? Is that what we want? A choice between a strong, but crazy, Republican who knows exactly how she wants to use the office or a weak Democrat who doesn’t have a clue how to leverage the power he’s got?

As I wrote recently, when I urged Evers to veto the entire budget, here is a summary of what he got:

  • Evers wanted $192 million more for the UW System. They gave him just over $8 million.
  • Evers wanted another $1.6 billion for K-12 education. The Republicans gave him only $128 million. They later sent school districts a lot more, but then they required them to use the money to cut property taxes, so that the new money didn’t represent a real increase for education. It was just a sham to make sure the state gets $2.3 billion in Federal COVID relief. Evers now says he’ll try to boost that another $100 million. Great. Now, he got one-eighth of what he wanted instead of one-tenth. This is what Evers calls a big win.
  • Evers wanted almost $90 million to increase the state’s support for special education programs from 28% of costs to 50%. The Republicans nudged it up to only 30%.

And those were just Evers’ top priorities. They also cut his Stewardship Fund proposal from $70 million a year to $32 million, and there was a host of other stuff that they cut or eliminated.

Two years ago I wrote that Evers should veto the entire budget and hold out for a non-partisan redistricting commission and the Federal Medicaid expansion. Instead, he tweaked around the edges and signed Robin Vos’ budget. Two years later he did exactly the same thing.

It’s all bad, but the worst part is redistricting. Evers’ only leverage on this was his two budgets. Now that he has squandered both chances, here is what may well happen. Vos will pass heavily gerrymandered maps through a resolution, which doesn’t require Evers’ signature. The Wisconsin Supreme Court will rule, on a 4-3 vote, that Vos had every right to do that. Game over. Republican majorities locked in until 2032, at least, no matter how many votes they get statewide.

In 2018, I supported Evers because, while I knew that he wasn’t dynamic, I thought he was the only Democrat who could win. Since he only won by 30,000 votes, I was probably right about that. Maybe that will be true again in 2022.

But, at the very least, Democratic voters should get the chance to decide for themselves, in the August, 2022 primary, if they want to take their chances with Evers again and, at best, get another four years of weakness, or go with someone who might stand up to Robin Vos and the Republicans.

Please, somebody, step up. Give us a choice.

Dave Cieslewicz, Editor, Yellow Stripes & Dead Armadillos.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

2 thoughts on “Op Ed: Democrats Need Alternative to Evers”

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    And now you know why he’s ex-Mayor Dave and a running joke in Madison.

    Does Dave seriously think that the WisGOPs wouldn’t have wanted Evers to veto the whole budget, which would give them the excuse to do nothing and cost the state $2.3 billion in K.12 stimulus funds? Talk about a “lack of strategic thinking.”

  2. kmurphy724 says:

    So you think Tony fails the purity test…but it does seem his incrementalism is working based on the reaction of Republicans.

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