MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday launched his first television ad buy of his reelection bid, a $3.5 million effort that marks an uptick in activity in the governor’s race, coming on the heels of other large advertising buys by Republicans in recent weeks.
Millionaire businessman Tim Michels, who got into the race last week, launched a nearly $1 million television ad campaign. He hasn’t run for office since a failed U.S. Senate bid in 2004. A super PAC supporting Kevin Nicholson, who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 but lost in the Republican primary, ran around $1 million worth of ads supporting him in April. Another Nicholson group last fall spent around $1 million on ads before he was officially a candidate.
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who polls show is leading the GOP race, has run three different TV spots since January for a total in the six figures, according to her campaign. State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, another GOP candidate, has not run any TV ads.
The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will advance to face Evers in November.
Evers’ ad is positive, noting the state’s low unemployment rate and a middle-class tax cut that Evers signed in the last budget that was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The ad says that Evers “worked with Republicans and Democrats” to pass the $2 billion income tax cut, but Evers’ rarely meets with GOP legislative leaders and they have complained about Evers taking credit for the tax cut written by Republicans. The Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget committee called it “laughable” for Evers to take credit for the tax cut when he signed the budget last year.
The GOP-controlled Legislature killed more than $1 billion in tax increases Evers proposed in the last budget that primarily would have fallen on manufacturers and the wealthy.
“We’re proud of the governor’s record and will continue to run an aggressive campaign that highlights the results he’s delivering and his plan for Wisconsin’s future,” Evers’ campaign manager Cassi Fenili said in a statement.
The ad also mentions the more than $1 billion in federal coronavirus relief money that was awarded to the state that Evers directed toward small businesses. The Legislature fought with Evers over control of the money, but Evers vetoed bills that would have given lawmakers a say in how it’s spent.
“Folks, there’s too much division in politics today,” Evers said into the camera. “That’s why I’m focused on bringing people together to get the results that matter.”