The 2022 Wisconsin gubernatorial election will take place on November 8, 2022, to elect the governor of Wisconsin. Incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers will seek a second term in office. As Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is running for the U.S. Senate in 2022, a new running mate, Sara Rodriguez, was nominated in the partisan primary. Barnes is the second lieutenant governor to not run with the incumbent governor since the state constitution was amended in 1967. The partisan primary was held on August 9th, with businessman Tim Michels defeating former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch in the Republican primary. Michels’ running mate is Roger Roth.
Wisconsin is one of seven states where the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary but runs on a single ticket with the gubernatorial nominee in the general election.
Evers was elected in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Gov. Scott Walker (R) 49.5% to 48.4%. Evers' campaign website says he has "worked to bring people together around common sense solutions that make Wisconsin stronger" and names "signing a bipartisan income tax cut, fixing thousands of miles of roads and bridges, investing in apprenticeships and job training programs, and increasing resources for our public schools" among his accomplishments. Evers was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Before being elected governor, Evers served as Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction for 10 years and as deputy superintendent for eight years before that.
Michels is co-owner and vice president of an energy and infrastructure construction company. He previously served in the U.S. Army for 12 years. Michels describes himself as "a businessman, not a politician." After winning the Republican nomination, Michels said, "This race has always been about ... standing up for the hard-working people of Wisconsin. They've been left behind by the Democratic Party that just wants to focus on the social issues. From my first day in office to my very last day as governor, jobs and the economy are going to be my number one priority."
Evers has blocked major expansions of the school choice programs and proposed large increases in state aid to public schools. Republicans approved a bill last spring to break up Milwaukee Public Schools into four to eight districts. Evers vetoed the bill.
Michels supports school choice, including taxpayer-paid vouchers to attend private religious schools, has been a prominent part of Michels' campaign. Michels also supports a parental "Bill of Rights" that gives parents more control on local levels including what is taught. Michels has not said what he would do with MPS, other than major changes. Michels has suggested he's against increasing funds for public education.
U.S. Senate Race
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R), Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes (D), and write-in candidate Scott Aubart (American Independent Party) are running to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate.
Wisconsin is one of two states holding a U.S. Senate election in 2022 with a Republican incumbent that President Joe Biden carried in the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin is also one of six states with one Democratic and one Republican U.S. Senator as of the 2022 U.S. Senate elections.
Johnson was first elected in 2010, defeating then-incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 52% to 47%. Before his election to the Senate, Johnson worked as the chief executive officer for a specialty plastics company and as an accountant at Jostens. Johnson said that his campaign "is focused on growing our economy and creating good jobs and economic opportunity for all.”
Barnes served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2013 to 2017 and was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Before his time in the legislature, Barnes worked for the city of Milwaukee and as a community organizer for the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope. Barnes said he would "fight to create opportunity in every corner of Wisconsin, bring manufacturing back, create jobs by tackling climate change, and stand up for Wisconsin’s family farmers."
The outcome of this race will affect the partisan balance of the U.S. Senate. Thirty-five of 100 seats are up for election, including one special election. Democrats have an effective majority, with the chamber split 50-50 and Vice President Kamala Harris (D) having the tie-breaking vote. Democrats hold 14 seats and Republicans hold 21 seats up for election in 2022.
Following the announcement by President Joe Biden that he will pardon people federally convicted of simple possession of marijuana, the candidates took very different approaches to the issue. Johnson said, "I think it ought to be a state-by-state decision," while Barnes said, "I've long supported the full legalization of marijuana."
Wisconsin Treasurers race
Voters will have two new faces as candidates for Wisconsin State Treasurer, as incumbent treasurer Sarah Godlewski chose to run for governor, and decided against a return to her current office.
There are two major party candidates listed on voters’ ballots are: Democrat Aaron Richardson and Republican John Leiber.
Aaron Richardson (Dem.)
Aaron Richardson is the mayor of Fitchburg and is seeking the office of State Treasurer as a Democrat.
“My experience leading one of the most diverse and fastest growing communities in Wisconsin will provide the foundation to not only make a difference in the lives of Wisconsin residents but also provide Governor Evers and lawmakers insight into what the communities of Wisconsin need from our leaders,” Richardson stated.
In addition to being mayor, he is chair of the Fitchburg Plan Commission. Previously, he was elected to the Fitchburg Common Council, he also chaired an Emergency Medical Service, co-chaired a task force on housing, was on a parks commission and served on the personnel, and public safety committees.
“I want to continue the great work Treasurer (Sarah) Godlewski has done. I will continue to work on efforts to make home ownership attainable for people throughout the state and provide financial educational materials to residents and school districts to improve financial literacy in Wisconsin,” he said. “I have been a champion for diversity as mayor and have experience building a responsible, multi-million-dollar budget.”
Richardson has a degree in marketing and management from UW-Green Bay, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from UW-Whitewater. He is a member of the Fitchburg Lions Club and has been youth basketball coach for six years.
He said he enjoys many activities, including playing euchre, running, golf, visiting Wisconsin state parks, beekeeping, and biking.
“I feel the time is right for me to take the next step and bring my leadership, experience and expertise to the state,” Richardson said.
John Leiber (Rep.)
John Leiber has lived his whole life in Racine the area and has been interested in “grassroots activism for a long time,” he stated. He first began volunteering on campaigns over two decades ago. He has been a campaign manager and board member of his local Republican party, and formerly worked in state government as a staffer in the state Legislature. He was president of his local parks and recreation commission and served on his local housing authority.
Leiber has a Bachelor of Arts in History from UW-Parkside, with a law degree from the UW Law School. He’s a married attorney who lives in Cottage Grove and has three children.
“I will work to make sure Wisconsinites continue to have the same opportunities my family has had,” Leiber said, citing his parents and previous generations.
Leiber has noted that the State Treasurer sis a board member on the Commissioner of Public Lands and wants to make sure that oversight is maintained on the $1.3-billion fund used for the UW-system and libraries and stressed that it was crucial to keep the fund “strong and well-managed so it continues to grow for future generations.”
He cited the 2018 statewide referendum that showed voters supporting the Treasurers’ office but said he will keep the office but focus on the duties. “Wisconsin voters chose to keep the treasurer’s office and it should be administered by someone dedicated to this office and to public service,” he stated.
As an attorney, Leiber said he has worked on difficult financial decisions with his customers and clients, and said he has the ability and experience for the office.
“I’ll use that experience to help all Wisconsinites, and make sure that Wisconsin’s investments continue to grow,” Leiber said.