Recapping Wisconsin's 2022 midterm election results

In Wisconsin's 2022 midterms, incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers defeated Republican challenger Tim Michels and incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson defeated Democratic challenger Mandela Barnes.

By Zac Schultz | Here & Now

November 11, 2022

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The Nov. 8 midterm election maintained Wisconsin’s brand of a divided statewide electorate.

Republican incumbent U.S. Sen, Ron Johnson won reelection with a narrow victory over his Democratic challenger, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

In the race for governor, Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers won 51% to 47%over Republican challenger Tim Michels.

For attorney general, incumbent Democrat Josh Kaul goes on to another term, defeating Republican challenger Eric Toney

And in the election for secretary of state, Democratic incumbent Doug La Follette holds a razor thin 0.3% margin over Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck.

The winning incumbents for U.S. senator and governor were elated about their victories as the results came in.

“Thank you! Hello, Wisconsin!” shouted Evers to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters.

It was a long wait, but when the governor took the stage just before 1 a.m. in the morning on Nov. 9, he declared victory with one of his favorite sayings.

“Holy mackerel folks, how about that?” exclaimed the governor.

Evers has always relied on his folksy style to win votes.

That’s who I am, folks, and that’s what I’ve always been. Some people call it boring, but you know what Wisconsin? As it turns out, boring wins!,” he said.

Evers also gave credit to supercharged turnout among young voters, especially college students and Democrats who were motivated by the issue of abortion rights.

“You showed up for each other, you showed up for reproductive rights and the freedom for you and your neighbors to make their own healthcare decisions without having to ask me or any other elected official,” Evers said.

Across the state in Milwaukee, Evers’ first-term Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes was not able to celebrate in his U.S. Senate race.

He consistently underperformed Evers’ margins by about 2%, and Barnes’ supporters were sent off with him trailing the incumbent Republican Johnson.

“Our elections have razor thin margins, and this U.S. Senate race is no different. This race is far too close to call tonight,” said Felesia Martin, a Milwaukee County supervisor.

In Neenah, Johnson sent his supporters home with more optimism.

“We’ve looked very closely at the numbers. We feel very confident that there’s no way they can really make up that gap, but I’m not going to declare victory until all the numbers are in, but I just wanted to give you guys the sense that this race is over,” said Johnson.

By noon the next day, Barnes was ready to concede.

“Now unfortunately we didn’t get over the finish line this time. But I know that this movement has meant so much to all of us, where just because we didn’t get across the finish line, that does not mean it’s over,” said Barnes.

Between the gubernatorial and senate race, candidates and groups spent more than $300 million, and voters were inundated with non-stop negative ads.

Johnson was only talking about his race, but his comments on election night seemed to sum up our current political environment.

“That’s a little depressing isn’t it, that lies can be that effective. If you ever wonder, quite honestly, why more good people don’t run for office, I would just recommend people take a look at the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race in 2022,” said Johnson.

Meanwhile, back in Madison, the self-described boring Tony Evers was ready to dance the night away to celebrate four more years in office.

“We’re going to polka tonight and get back to work tomorrow,” said Evers. “Thank you Wisconsin — we love you!”

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