It appears State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers will be the next governor of Wisconsin, making former State Representative Mandela Barnes the state’s first Black lieutenant governor.
Evers’ victory was one of the most narrow in memory — just over 30,000 votes out of 2.6 million cast. Given the narrow margin, incumbent Scott Walker did not concede defeat. Current Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch told supporters to prepare for a recount. However, a candidate can only request a recount if the margin is less than one percent; Evers’ margin of victory as of 1:30 am Wednesday was about 30,000 votes, about 5,000 votes outside that one percent range.
The race was a virtual tie with more than 2.5 million votes counted until media outlets began reporting around midnight that the City of Milwaukee still had nearly 50,000 early vote ballots yet to report. Those broke heavily for Evers, putting him over the top.
In Dane County, Evers won more than 75 percent of the vote, a margin of 150,000 votes.
Walker, first elected in 2010, survived a recall in 2012 and was reelected in 2014. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2016. Several of his former cabinet members turned against him, alleging that he placed his personal political ambitions ahead of the state’s business.
Mandela Barnes, a 31-year-old progressive from Milwaukee, handily won the primary for lieutenant governor in August and has been a prominent presence on the campaign trail with Evers. During the campaign he was outspoken on issues of racial justice, often siding publicly with Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who protested police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem. Current Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch claimed, without evidence, that she had heard Barnes himself had knelt during the anthem at the Wisconsin State Fair; she later apologized.
This story will be updated.