Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has defeated Republican candidate Tim Michels in the Wisconsin governor’s race.
Michels conceded the race to Evers early Wednesday morning, according to multiple reports.
“I just called Gov Evers and conceded. I wish the Evers family well,” Michels said, according to WISN anchor Cyreia Sandlin.
Decision Desk HQ projected Evers’ victory at 1:42 a.m. EST on Wednesday.
The race between incumbent Evers, a former public school administrator, and Michels, a construction company executive, was closely watched as recent polling between the two showed a tight race, with most pre-election surveys showing only about a one-point margin between the two.
The strategies of the two gubernatorial candidates closely mirrored Wisconsin’s high-profile Senate race, with Evers focusing on abortion rights and painting his Republican challenger as radical, while Michels hammered Evers on rising crime and inflation.
Evers, 71, who narrowly defeated former Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2018, was the state superintendent of public instruction from 2009 until 2019. Since his election, he has faced criticism over COVID lockdowns, the Kenosha riots, and criminal justice policies deemed soft by his opponents.
His administration has been hamstrung by Wisconsin’s Republicans, who control the state’s Assembly and Senate. Ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Evers called a special session of the legislature to codify abortion into Wisconsin law, but the bid failed when Republicans in both chambers quickly gaveled in and out, refusing to seriously consider Evers’ motion.
As governor, Evers has also vetoed Republican legislation regarding election integrity, abortion, and guns.
Michels, 60, won the Republican primary in August after positioning himself as an outsider. He defeated former Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and State Assemblyman Tim Ramthun.
Michels served in the U.S. Army for 12 years before leaving as a major and the company he runs, Michels Corporation, currently employs about 8,000 people
The businessman earned the support of former President Trump and has adopted some of Trump’s messaging to take aim at the political establishment in Madison.
“People are tired with politics as usual, tired of career politicians, they want an outsider, they want a businessman,” Michels told The Daily Wire in July. “That’s what I bring to this race.”
Throughout the campaign, Michels has said that he will turn the capital, Madison, “upside down,” decrease the influence of lobbying on state politics, uphold Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban, end “unmanned ballot boxes,” and scrap the Wisconsin Election Commission.
During a Republican primary debate, he also indicated that he would support paid family leave, a unique policy for a Republican politician.
The two candidates have also clashed over education, with Michels promising to support universal school choice and the Evers pushing for increased funding for public schools. The two have also clashed over the issue of Critical Race Theory, and whether it is being taught in public schools.
Marquette University School of Law’s final poll for the season showed the two tied, with each taking 48% among likely voters.