For the 66th time since taking office in 2019, he pulled out his veto pen.
In some of the most politically divided states, Democrat governors now see themselves as the only backstop against a wave of GOP-backed legislation targeting everything from abortion rights and school curricula to access to voting.
“I have to prevent some really bad things from happening,” Evers claimed in an interview. “It is a bit lonely, but I know I’m representing the people of Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin is one of four states emerging as top priorities for Democrats in an election year when the party is facing fierce political headwinds.
Three of the four were states won in 2016 by Donald Trump, where rampant vote fraud is believed to have occurred after left-wing activists colluded with billionaire oligarchs and Democrat officials to flood the system with dubious mail-in ballots.
It was the Democrat governors who were largely responsible for enacting rules changes that may have violated the state constititions and flown in the face of lawmakers using as their pretense the coronavirus pandemic.
That prompted many GOP-led legislatures to close the loopholes in voting laws in order to prevent fraud and promote election integrity instead, even as Democrats have fought the process tooth and nail.
If the governorships switch parties, the flood of GOP legislation that has so far been blocked would likely become law.
In Wisconsin, for example, the Legislature is fast-tracking a host of bills changing election administration and voting rules, all of which Evers is expected to veto but that other Republican candidates for governor support.
Governors also have an important role in the mechanics of presidential elections—under federal law, the electors they say reflect the winners of their state get extra weight in any congressional fight over certifying the choice of the next president.
That allowed some blue-state governors, including Whitmer, to reject the slate of electors supported by GOP legislators and instead appoint their own electors as disputes over the outcome lingered for weeks.
Many GOP candidates running for governor this year have expressed support for Trump, who maintains that the election was stolen.
In Wisconsin last week, state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, who was disciplined by Republican leadership over his election skepticism, filed paperwork to run for governor.
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, the head of the Democratic Governors Association, said the four governors are “standing in the breach against Republican state legislatures’ attacks on voting rights.”
Cooper, who also contends with a Republican legislature, claimed the governors were “protecting the foundation of our democracy,” a trope that has, in fact, been echoed repeatedly by the Biden administration and other leftists to undermine the core tenets of American democracy.
Most notably, radical leftists in the US senate attempted to eliminate the filibuster, the one check used by the minority party, while claiming that the bipartisan majority’s opposition to an extremist voting overhaul was akin to the racist Jim Crow laws enacted by Democrats in the deep South during the early 20th century.
Republicans argue that Democrats are being obstructionist and simply refusing to work with the party that controls the legislatures in their states.
“An inability to work effectively with their legislature, regardless of party control, will ultimately be viewed by voters as a failure of leadership,” said Phil Cox, former executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
Democrats aren’t limiting their work this year to protecting their position in the four states in question. They are also hoping to pick up Republican-held seats in states like Georgia, Massachusetts and Maryland.
But the DGA is stepping up its opposition research efforts on Republican candidates in Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And the Democratic candidates themselves are sitting on sizable campaign accounts thanks to dark money, mostly from out of state.
At the end of 2021, Evers had about $10 million while Josh Shapiro, the likely Democratic nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, had $16 million, according to state campaign records.
In Kansas, Kelly is expected to have a more difficult bid for reelection than in 2018, when she won in a three-way race. She had $2 million at the end of last year.
And in Michigan, Whitmer was sitting on $10 million. An independent expenditure group affiliated with the DGA also ran a pro-Whitmer ad in Michigan worth roughly $200,000 during December and January.
Whitmer—perhaps the most radical of the group of four, with ties to George Soros—has vetoed multiple bills that would undermine voting safeguards, rejecting nine such measures in October alone.
“Gov. Whitmer is the backstop in a world where, if Republicans were to control legislative chambers and the governor’s office in any of these states, stripping voting rights would just automatically become law,” claimed Patrick Schuh, Michigan director of far-left activist group America Votes.
Without a supermajority, Republicans have been forced to try to end-run Whitmer by attempting a ballot initiative, one that Schuh’s group hopes to counter with its own.
In Pennsylvania, Wolf blocked similar efforts, vetoing a massive bill that also would have reduced the days drop boxes for absentee ballots would be open. Wolf, finishing his second four-year term, is not seeking reelection, but Shapiro supports his vetoes.
Those Democrats have some advantages that could help them politically this year, including robust budget surpluses, state revenue that outperformed dire pandemic forecasts and billions in federal COVID-19 relief and incoming infrastructure money.
However, the drawback to those pork-barrel boons is the inflation that has resulted from the federal government’s massive over-spending, which the Biden administration owns—and, by extension, Democrat leaders.
In Wisconsin, Evers has plans for the state’s largest budget surplus, $3 billion, including child care tax credits for working families and similar credits for full-time volunteer caregivers for the elderly and homebound, moves he sees as smart use of extra money at a time of need.
With the flatness of low expectations, the mild-mannered former state school superintendent said he hopes Republicans “take a look at it.”
“I think the Republicans will be hard-pressed to say no to this. But they’ve done it before,” Evers said. “Whatever the number I’ve vetoed, it’s paltry compared to the number I’m going to.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press