Political Ponderings

Breaking down the candidates in two of Wisconsin’s major midterm races

Toby Mohr

More stories from Toby Mohr


The midterm election is less than a month away and several major Wisconsin races are headed into the final stretch before election day.

Get the rundown on the Wisconsin candidates for Governor and the U.S. Senate.


Incumbent, Governor Tony Evers, Democrat

Evers was elected for governor in 2018. He is a former public school science teacher and principal and served as state superintendent from 2009 to 2019.

Evers has campaigned on his accomplishments as governor including investing in public schools and repairing roads. According to Evers’ campaign, Wisconsin’s education system went from No. 18 to No. 8 in the nation under the Evers administration and Wisconsin has rebuilt 5,000 miles of highways.

Evers supports overturning the state’s 1849 abortion ban which was put back into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.

Evers has called for two special legislative sessions, one to overturn the ban and one to create a referendum for Wisconsin residents to vote on abortion policy. The Republican led legislature adjourned both sessions after 15 seconds with no action.

Tim Michels, Republican

Michels is the co-owner of Wisconsin’s largest construction company and a U.S. Army veteran. He also ran as a Republican for Senate in 2004 but lost to Russ Fiengold. 

Michels was endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the primary election in August and supported Trump’s claims of election fraud. Michels has campaigned on increasing Wisconsin election integrity. 

Michels has been critical of Evers’s stance on crime and said he would expand law enforcement to increase community safety and implement a state aid penalty on communities that defund police systems, according to the Michels campaign.

Michels has said he supports Wisconsin’s abortion ban. 

The 1849 Law is an exact mirror of my position and my position is an exact mirror of the 1849 law,” Michels said in an interview with WISN-TV in June. 

Later in September he said he would support exceptions for rape and incest if the state legislation decided to include them in additional abortion bans in the future.

U.S. Senate

Incumbent, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican

Johnson was elected to the Senate in 2010 and has served two terms. 

According to a 2014 study by Ballotpedia, Johnson is one of the most reliable Republican votes in the Senate. Johnson has voted with the Republican party over 90% of the time while in office. 

In the past two years he has voted against all of President Biden’s key legislative acts, including the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment Act. Johnson has called Democrats’ bills “reckless spending.”

Johnson also voted “not guilty” in Former President Trump’s impeachment trial for high crimes and misdemeanors following Jan. 6.

Johnson has primarily campaigned on economic issues, citing inflation and high gas prices in Wisconsin, and saying prices are caused by Democrats’ policies.

Johnson’s campaign says, if reelected, he will continue to vote against federal spending to lower costs and inflation.

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Democrat

Mandela Barnes is running for Senate against Johnson.

Barnes has served as Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin since 2019 with the Evers administration. He previously served as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2013 to 2017.

Barnes won a crowded Democratic primary in August, receiving 77% of the vote.

Barnes has been critical of Johnson voting for a 2017 tax break which, according to PolitiFact fact checker, benefited himself and other wealthy Americans.

Barnes has campaigned on supporting worker’s unions which his campaign says will strengthen the middle and working classes. 

The Barnes campaign says he would support legislation to transition to “100 percent renewable energy” and prioritize fighting climate change. Johnson has called his proposal unnecessary spending.

The midterm election is Tuesday, Nov. 8. Register to vote at myvote.wi.gov.

Next week, Chief Copy Editor Maddie Kasper takes over Political Ponderings.

Mohr can be reached at [email protected].