Wisconsin candidates make final push ahead of Election Day

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes rallied Monday with union members as part of a final push to get out Democratic voters, while Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson continued to blanket the state on the last day of campaigning before Election Day.

Polls show both races to be about even. Each carries massive consequences in the battleground state leading into the 2024 presidential election.

An Evers win would put him in position to continue to block the Republican-controlled Legislature, unless the GOP achieves supermajorities that could overturn Evers’ vetoes. Michels, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, has promised to sign more than 120 bills Evers vetoed, including a package that would make it more difficult to vote absentee.

A Johnson win would help Republicans as they seek to take over majority control of the Senate. Barnes, the current lieutenant governor, is seeking to become the first Black senator from Wisconsin.

Other notable races on the ballot include Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul against Republican Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney and Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette versus Republican Amy Loudenbeck.

Republicans have tried to focus on inflation, the economy and crime while Democrats have tried to make the election a referendum on abortion.

Michels continued a statewide tour Monday with stops taking him from the Green Bay area west to around Wausau, then to Eau Claire and La Crosse in western Wisconsin before finishing in Kenosha, in southeast Wisconsin. Michels has made Evers’ response to the sometimes violent riots in Kenosha in 2020 a major part of his argument for defeating Evers.

Evers focused on the Democratic strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison on the final day. He needs strong turnout there to blunt Republican voters in the suburbs and more rural parts of the state. Barnes was stopping in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale and Green Bay before ending the day in the Madison area.

Evers, along with Barnes and other Democratic candidates, held a “Wisconsin Workers’ Rights” rally Monday afternoon at the state Capitol with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The governor took one last chance to slip in a few jabs at his opponent, calling Michels “anti-public schools” and hitting on Republicans’ track record of legislation targeting voting rights in Wisconsin.

“You know that he’s got a plan that’s gonna make it much more difficult for people to vote,” said Evers. “You thought gerrymandering was bad, wait ’til you see what this guy’s got planned for us. The good news is, he ain’t gonna win. I am.”

Johnson campaigned with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday, as he made stops in Stevens Point, Janesville, Waukesha and Milwaukee before ending the day in his hometown of Oshkosh.

Other surrogates who have been through the state include former President Barack Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Neither President Joe Biden nor Trump campaigned in Wisconsin in the general election. Polls have shown both Biden and Trump to be unpopular with voters. Biden won Wisconsin in 2020 by just over half a percentage point, while Trump carried it in 2016 by a similar margin.

The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Associated Press writer Harm Venhuizen contributed to this report.

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