Incumbent Governor Tony Evers (D) ran unopposed in the Democratic primary yesterday. Evers is running for his second term in the office after narrowly beating incumbent Governor Scott Walker (R) in 2019, denying him a third term. Evers’ platform includes promises to expand Wisconsin’s health care program and to lower premiums for those with private insurance. He is campaigning on broadband expansions and infrastructure accomplishments from his latest term. Evers has raised more than $20 million since the start of 2021, with additional backing from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), which plans to spend $21 million on behalf of Evers this cycle.
The Republican primary was symbolic of the current tensions within the GOP party, with former President Donald Trump and his former Vice President Mike Pence again endorsing different candidates. In the end, Trump-endorsed candidate Tim Michels captured the nomination after a late entry–just four months ago–into the race. Until July, former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R) had been considered the frontrunner and had Pence’s support.
Michels has released in depth policy blueprints on major issues like crime, education, and election integrity. If elected, he has promised to fire the Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm on day one and to create a RICO-like provision to investigate and prosecute organizers of riots. His platform also includes plans to eliminate the personal property tax and reform the lobbying system. Michels is the co-owner of the state's largest pipeline construction company Michels Corp. He has poured nearly $12 million of his own funds into his campaign since late April. $2.3 million of this funding has gone to campaign ads.
Michels is set to face Democratic Governor Tony Evers in what is expected to be one of the hardest-fought races in the country this year, with implications for the 2024 presidential race in this swing state. The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal ball have rated this race as a toss-up.
Incumbent Attorney General Josh Kaul (D) did not have a primary challenger and will face off against Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney (R) who has received 37.5% of votes after a tight Republican primary race against two challengers. Kaul, who is wrapping up his first term as the state’s chief legal officer, is running for reelection on a platform focused on expanding his Safer Wisconsin plan released last November, which focuses on public safety, gun-safety legislation, healthcare expansion, and combating the state’s drug epidemic.
All three candidates vying for the Republican nomination ran on similar platforms that focused on criticizing previous pandemic guidelines and the current state of crime in Wisconsin. If elected, Toney aims to give the Department of Justice original jurisdiction to prosecute violent crime in Milwaukee and supports qualified immunity for law enforcement. The faceoff between Attorney General Kaul and Toney in November will be competitive, with greater implications for abortion policy in the state depending on the results.
Both the Republican and Democratic primary for Minnesota governor saw narrow fields of candidates. Governor Walz secured the Democratic nomination handily. He is seeking his second term as Minnesota’s head of state. Prior to being elected, Walz represented southern Minnesota in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-2019. He lauds the way his administration handled the COVID-19 pandemic, calling Minnesota’s response a “national model” and highlighting his COVID-19 Recovery Budget, which provided financial relief for workers and small businesses. In 2020, after the death of George Floyd, Walz ordered the Minesota legislature to reconvene for special sessions on law enforcement reform. The legislature passed bills aimed at discouraging aggressive conduct, especially chokeholds, by police. Walz also signed executive orders to fund community violence prevention grants. He supported the state’s Health Care Access Fund when it was set to expire in 2019, asserting that Minnesotans need accessible, affordable, and comprehensive healthcare options. By June, Walz had amassed a $4.5 million war chest for his campaign, which his administration called a record for Minnesota gubernatorial campaigns at that point in the cycle.
The Republican primary ballot listed three candidates: former Minnesota State Senator Dr. Scott Jensen (R), consultant Bob Carney, Jr., and former KBRF Radio Station reporter Joyce Lacey. Jensen won an endorsement by the Minnesota GOP in April, after which most candidates backed out of the race. He ended up securing the party’s nomination with 89% of the vote. Jensen has a plan to deal with violence in urban areas of Minnesota that includes creating harsher penalties and appointing judges who are committed to maximum sentencing. He asserts that state spending is out of control and wishes to shrink the state’s government by eliminating non-essential agencies and programs. He supports allowing for-profit insurance companies to operate in the state. He has a strategy to deal with inflation that involves reducing gas prices, phasing out the individual income tax, and line item vetoing projects he deems wasteful. At this point, Jensen has raised around $2.2 million.
Most publicly available polls indicate a lead for Governor Walz over his Republican challenger. The Cook Political Report rates the race likely Democratic, and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball estimates that it leans Democratic.
Two candidates were on the ballot in the Democratic primary for Attorney General of Minnesota: incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) and Bill Dahn (D). Attorney General Ellison easily received the Democratic party’s nomination again with 89% of the vote. Ellison sued manufacturers of generic drugs for price-fixing and illegal allocation of markets. Ellison also published a report containing ways to make prescription drugs more affordable and accessible, and promises to act on its recommendations if reelected. If reelected, he promises to protect Minnesotans from price-gouging, profiteering, and antitrust and anticompetitive behavior.
The Republican primary for Minnesota Attorney General saw three contenders: attorney Jim Schultz (R), former Minnesota State House of Representatives member Doug Wardlow (R), and Sharon Anderson (R). Schultz won the Republican party’s nomination with 53% of the vote. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and has worked at two prominent law firms in Minnesota where he specialized in business, regulatory, and compliance law. If elected to the attorney general’s office, Schultz plans to prioritize public safety by supporting law enforcement. He vows to protect entrepreneurs and small businesses from federal overreach and monopolies. Schultz also plans to address fraud and senior neglect.
There was no gubernatorial primary in the Nutmeg State yesterday as neither Governor Ned Lamont (D) nor Republican Bob Stefanowski were challenged in what will be a rematch of the 2018 general election. Several publicly available polls indicate a significant lead for incumbent Lamont.
Lamont assumed office in 2019 after defeating Stefanowski by approximately three points. In his first year as governor, Lamont garnered low approval ratings, but these rose dramatically after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. One publicly available poll conducted in March 2021 showed that over 70% of respondents approved of his handling of COVID-19. His overall approval rating climbed to over 55% by this time, almost doubling his 28.1% approval rating of December 2019. Lamont has labeled his rival, Stefanowski, an “extremist” on issues which have taken center stage in the national political debate such as abortion and gun control. He has raised over $1.1 million for his campaign, most of it from his own bank account.
Stefanowski has worked extensively in the private sector, both as a consultant and in corporate leadership positions. He was the CEO of DFC Global, the CFO of UBS, and the CEO of multiple units within General Electric. He cites his experience as an executive as well as his finance background as qualifications for the governor’s office. If elected, he pledges to reform Connecticut’s criminal justice system. He accuses his opponent, Governor Lamont, of ignoring violence against young people of color. He intends to use the Special Transportation Fund to reduce commuting costs. He has criticized Lamont breaking his 2018 campaign promises by adding toll gantries. Stefanowski also pledges to cut taxes, audit state spending, and find ways to lower utility bills.
The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball have this race rated as Likely Democratic.
Like the race for governor, only one Republican and one Democrat are running for attorney general: Incumbent Attorney General William Tong (D) is being challenged by Jessica Kordas (R). Tong has occupied his position since 2019. Tong served in the Connecticut State House of Representatives from 2007-2019. If reelected, he plans to force utilities to pay back consumers for their failed response to tropical storm Isaias. He pledges to lead price-fixing litigation against Big Pharma. He touts his investigation of social media companies claiming their business practices may pose to young people. Tong also cites the work he has done to address Connecticut’s opioid epidemic.
Jessica Kordas has worked as a trial layer in both criminal and civil cases. She believes her experience as an attorney and her background managing medical facilities and assisting financial traders qualify her for the attorney general’s office. If elected, she plans to advocate parents’ rights, freedom of speech, and accountability, stating that the office of the Attorney General cannot longer be a platform for self-interested politicians.
Governor Phil Scott (R) is one step closer to reelection after facing opposition from two candidates in the Republican primary. Scott had been quiet about his reelection intentions until his announcement earlier this May and indicated that he would not begin actively campaigning until after Labor Day. His platform focuses on his accomplishments in the office, including stops to raise taxes and cost of living. He also highlights his history of not engaging in negative campaigns against opponents, which he says signifies his desire to be a unifier.
Scott will face off with Brenda Siegel (D) after she ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Siegel is focused on several issues in her campaign, including the housing crisis, the state’s drug epidemic, addressing climate change, and building a “bottom-up economy.” Scott will likely secure a fourth term come November. He is immensely popular. The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have both rated this race as solid Republican.
The attorney general seat became vacant following Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s resignation in May. Washington County State’s Attorney Rory Thibault (D) and former chief of staff in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Charity Clark (D) faced off in yesterday’s Democratic primary. Ultimately, Clark secured 67% of the vote and will face off with H. Brooke Paige (R), who ran unopposed in the Republican primary. Clark touted her experience as former Vermont Attorney General T.J Donovan’s chief of staff, where she said she managed over 150 employees. Her platform includes addressing violence against women and protecting the environment. She is seeking to be the first woman elected to the office.
Paige is highlighting his conservative constitutionalist values and is focused on taxes, law and order, and government transparency on the trail. Paige–a perennial statewide candidate–had also been in the running for Vermont State Auditor and Vermont Secretary of State. In Vermont, a candidate can win multiple primary elections but may only choose one office to run for in the general election. If he chooses to remain in the AG race it is unlikely he will defeat Clark.