Evers continues work to maintain front-runner position

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Tony Evers said it's time for Democrats to come together and support him as the party's front-runner in the race for governor.

During a stop in Eau Claire on Wednesday, the state’s superintendent said “it's my DNA" as a reason for positioning himself as the only one who could mount a successful state-wide campaign.

The latest Marquette Law School poll released last week showed Evers remaining the top Democrat in the field, with 25 percent of likely voters said they'll vote for him in the primary on August 14th.

“I think it’s a huge advantage for me that I have won three times statewide,” he said “I've never lost a county in northern or central Wisconsin. Last time I ran (in 2017), I won 70 of 72 counties. So, that’s important to me.

"Right now, we're so polarized at the state. I believe one of my most fervent hopes is that one of the first things we can do after I'm governor is actually accomplish something around areas where there is common ground."

This week's news on the state's business front may further polarize that ground. Monday, Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson said it would shift some motorcycle production overseas - a result of tariffs between the U.S. and the European Union.

"The interest of the United States is not to put more tariffs on, but rather, to create a level playing field where there are no tariffs in the future,” Walker said to the press Monday, after the announcement was made. “Whether its Harley-Davidson, whether its an agriculture entity, whether its a manufacturer, that's really got to be our endgame."

That playing field will soon include Asian tech giant Foxconn. Walker will be joined by President Trump on Thursday to break ground on a $10 billion factory complex to be built in Racine county.

Evers says Walker's moves signal more of an allegiance for the Trump administration and the Badger State.

“I was with a good successful farmer just before I came here, and he has talking about the fact that how what's going on in his industry right now is absolutely being affected, with all sorts of costs in revenue is making business shaky for him,” he said.

"He has to stand up for the state, or then run for president again, for God sakes. He's Wisconsin's Governor. He should be standing up for the people of Wisconsin."

Brian Westrate, the GOP chair for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District dismissed that notion.

“I believe that were Foxconn moving into Illinois, (Trump) would be going to Illinois for the groundbreaking of that, or to California or to New York,” he said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday. “This is a huge win for the country, in addition to being a huge win for Wisconsin.

Earlier Wednesday, Evers scored a win in the state Supreme Court. The ruling allows him to hire his own attorney – rather than be represented by the state Department of Justice – in a case challenging his authority as state superintendent.

The lawsuit alleges Evers has been writing school regulations without approval from Walker or his administration in violation of state law. Evers said "common sense prevailed" in the high court’s ruling and that the case has a direct tie-in to his campaign against Walker.

"It's about taking away the state superintendent's authority around making administrative rules,” he said. “Now, they found in favor of me last time and I believe they're going to do that again, but the fact that it keeps coming up leads me to believe that it's Walker making this around the race for governor."

Evers was in Eau Claire on Wednesday with state representative Dana Wachs, who recently dropped out in the race for the Democrat nomination.
“He understands how to get things through a legislature. He understands what it's like to run a large organization of bureaucracy and I think he's going to be a great governor,” Wachs said to WEAU 13 News on Wednesday.

A large field of candidates is still in the mix for the next seven weeks, fighting for the right to square off against Walker, forcing Evers to keep his eyes on the next two elections.

"The size of the campaign is immaterial to me with who’s running, because it is about who will eventually beat Scott Walker,” he said. “The issues of the campaign are relatively narrow. We're all Democrats, so that we won't find a wide diversion of issues,” Evers said. “The wide diversion of issues are between Scott Walker and me. So we're focusing on the primary, but we're absolutely working towards November."