MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrat Tony Evers is set to take the oath of office and replace Gov. Scott Walker during a noon ceremony Monday at the state Capitol, ending eight years of Republican dominance in Wisconsin.
While Republicans will maintain control of the Legislature, having Evers in place will give Democrats the power to block GOP bills and force either compromise or gridlock.
It marks the first time since 2006, when Democrat Jim Doyle was governor, that the entire Legislature is controlled by the opposite party of the governor. In 2007 and 2008, Doyle was governor and Democrats had control of the Senate, but Republicans had the Assembly. In 2009 and 2010 Democrats controlled everything, and since 2011 Republicans had it all.
Walker and the GOP used their power to transform Wisconsin by enacting a host of conservative priorities, including all but eliminating collective bargaining for public workers and putting in place electoral boundaries that favor Republican incumbents.
Evers says he wants to work with Republicans to build a more civil political discourse in Wisconsin. But many of his priorities run counter to what Republicans want, including Evers’ desire to expand Medicaid, increase school spending by 10 percent and dramatically scale back a corporate tax break program to pay for a middle-class income tax cut.
Republicans are already preparing to write an alternative state budget, which Evers has threatened to veto.
Evers is expected to deliver his first State of the State speech later this month, then present his budget to lawmakers in late February or early March.
But Monday’s inauguration ceremonies are about celebrating, giving Evers a chance to outline his priorities and offering a brief respite before the fights begin. Walker and Doyle are expected to attend the ceremonies along with three other former Wisconsin governors, Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum and Martin Schreiber.
Evers was to take the oath of office from Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Pat Roggensack.
In addition to Evers, all other constitutional officers elected in November will be sworn into office. They are all Democrats, marking the first time since 1983 that all offices will be held by Democrats. Those being sworn in are Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Attorney General Josh Kaul, Treasurer Sarah Godlewski and Secretary of State Doug La Follette. La Follette is the only incumbent.
Newly elected members of the Legislature will also take office. In the Assembly, 63 Republicans and 36 Democrats will be seated. Of them, eight Republicans and seven Democrats are new. In the Senate, 11 Republicans and six Democrats are taking office. Of them, three Republicans and one Democrat are new. Republicans will hold a 19-14 majority.