‘I will take the fight to Walker:’ Tony Evers defeats 7 opponents in Democratic primary for governor

MADISON -- The Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker said after his primary election victory Tuesday, Aug. 14 he will "take the fight" to Walker by running the same kind of race he did in the primary. State Superintendent Tony Evers won the eight-person Democratic primary.

Evers said he will attack Walker on his record, and talk about issues Wisconsin voters care about, including education and jobs. Evers told The Associated Press in an interview that those are all things Walker "has failed at."

The 66-year-old Evers also downplayed concerns he isn't inspiring enough to defeat Walker.

"I will take the fight to Scott Walker but I will also be equally passionate about the issues," said Evers.

Former State Senator Mandela Barnes won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, issuing this statement:

“I am so grateful for all the support I have received this past year from Wisconsinites all across our state, as well as the effort put forth by other Democratic primary candidates on the ballot today. I also would like to congratulate Tony Evers on his hard-fought win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary – he knows that what’s best for our kids is what's best for our state, and that message clearly resonates with families across Wisconsin.

Today, Democratic voters showed up and sent a strong message that Wisconsin is ready for change. They know that we need transformational ideas and leadership that invest in opportunities and fairness for every child, person, and family in Wisconsin, regardless of zip code.

Wisconsin Democrats have the ideas, values, and vision to inspire voters. How we will win is by rallying around policies that reflect the values that matter most to working people – providing economic security for families, fully funding public education, protecting the environment, and ensuring that everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare.

While Republicans continue their efforts to divide us, Democrats must come together and lead with a vision. I look forward to campaigning alongside Tony Evers to elect Democrats up and down ticket all across the state to ensure a better path forward for Wisconsin communities and families.”

The eight Democrats running for governor in Wisconsin largely kept their focus on Republican Gov. Walker ahead of Tuesday's primary, while Walker repeatedly warned his supporters of a possible "blue wave."

Walker, who is seeking his third term as governor after an unsuccessful bid for president in 2016, built a big financial advantage and ran more than a dozen television ads touting his record of the past eight years. The Democratic Governors Association, fearful that whoever emerges from the primary will be broke, worked to shore up money and other support for Tuesday's winner.

Tony Evers

The Democrats were largely united on the issues. They opposed a potential $10 billion Foxconn Technology Group development Walker secured with President Donald Trump's administration; supported legalization of marijuana; and favored scaling back Walker's signature law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers.

The Wisconsin Republican Party accused the Democrats of engaging in a "dangerous race to the left" in an attempt to beat Walker, whose only GOP challenger, Robert Meyer, did not actively campaign.

State Schools Superintendent Tony Evers, the Democratic front-runner,had a double-digit lead in a July poll by Marquette University Law School, but more than a third of respondents were undecided.

Tony Evers votes in primary election Aug. 14

Evers was the only candidate to have won statewide office before. In his third term as state superintendent, he focused his campaign on Walker, arguing that he has failed public schools while diverting funding to expand private school vouchers. Republicans portrayed Evers as a bureaucrat who wasn't aggressive enough in revoking licenses from teachers accused of wrongdoing in the classroom.

Tony Evers votes in primary election Aug. 14

Tony Evers votes in primary election Aug. 14

Only four other Democrats raised enough to run television ads ahead of the primary: former state Rep. Kelda Roys, state firefighters union leader Mahlon Mitchell, former state party leader Matt Flynn and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

Kelda Roys votes in primary election Aug. 14

The other candidates were state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, political activist Mike McCabe and corporate attorney Josh Pade, none of whom ever seemed to get traction among donors or in the polls.

Kelda Roys votes in primary election Aug. 14

Roys made a splash with a March campaign video showing her breastfeeding her newborn daughter. She made abortion rights a focus of her campaign and would have been the state's first female governor. She received the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Kelda Roys votes in primary election Aug. 14

Mitchell is a Madison firefighter who ran as the lieutenant governor candidate in a failed attempt to recall Walker in 2012. He was backed by labor unions and would be the state's first black governor. Mitchell said in a television ad that he would "fight against racism and division." He was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California.

Mahlon Mitchell voting in primary election Aug. 14

Both Roys, 39, and Mitchell, 41, argued it's time for the younger generation to have a voice in Democratic politics — a jab at the 66-year-old Evers.

Mahlon Mitchell voting in primary election Aug. 14

Mahlon Mitchell voting in primary election Aug. 14

Flynn resisted bipartisan calls to drop out over his work as attorney for the Milwaukee Archdiocese when it was fighting priest abuse claims in the 1990s. Flynn focused his campaign on opposition to the Foxconn project.

Matt Flynn

Soglin, 73, was the oldest candidate and has been mayor of the capital city off and on since 1973, for a total of 22 years. He ran an ad portraying Walker as a puppet controlled by President Trump.

Paul Soglin

Kathleen Vinehout

Mike McCabe