Theodore Keener stated that he felt "really jolted" by a shooting earlier in the month, which left five people hurt and the shooter dead.
It's a serious problem. It's ridiculous and we need to have a governor who will fix it," Keener said. Keener is a self-described Independent who voted for Republican Scott Walker and President Joe Biden in 2018.
Rising crime in Keener’s hometown (a city of around 80,000 that borders Milwaukee to the south) and throughout the state are just a few of the growing issues that threaten the election prospects for the incumbent Democratic governor. Tony Evers -- and crime, which his GOP opponents are keen to exploit.
Another issue is transparency of the education curriculum, concerns over what politicians call "critical race theory", and rising inflation. Interviews with voters and the most recent polling suggest that there are other issues. According to strategists, pollsters, and political watchers in the state: Evers' lack of significant accomplishments is another issue. His agenda has been severely limited by Republicans who control both the state Legislature chambers.
Like Biden's approval ratings for the state, Evers's are declining.
It all is surrounded by the difficult political environment faced Democrats, who control the White House and have narrow majority in both chambers of Congress. Midterm elections are often difficult for the incumbent president's party. Wisconsin is no exception. The incumbent president's candidate has lost seven of the last seven gubernatorial elections in Wisconsin -- all of them in midterm years. In 2018, Evers won a victory over Walker amid a wider Democratic wave.
There are many reasons that make him vulnerable. This is a significant issue in the area of crime. It's something that voters are really talking about," stated Charlie Sykes, former Milwaukee conservative talk radio host and editor-in-chief at The Bulwark. He's not well-known for any particular achievement. He's been there for years and I doubt the average Wisconsinite could point to anything he's done.
Wisconsin voters are less concerned than in other states about restrictions on pandemics, Due to the opposition of multiple courts and unified state Republicans, Evers was unable to institute a mask mandate.
However, voters are more concerned about an increase in violent crime than Covid restrictions. Interviews with 12 Wisconsin voters across the state revealed that crime was the most pressing concern. Interviews with 12 Wisconsin voters from across the state revealed that crime was the top concern. A Marquette University Law School poll published in November showed that 69 per cent of likely voters believed that crime has increased.
The crime rate has increased across the U.S. in 2020, 2021. However, it is especially acute in Wisconsin where the violent crime rates in 2020 rose by 8.9 per cent over the previous year (higher that the 5.6 percent nationwide rise). According to FBI data. This included 271 homicides in the state, with 190 occurring in Milwaukee County. Violent crime rose by an even larger margin in Racine county, where Keener resides. This was a narrow victory for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and Walker by a slim margin 2018
The FBI crime data for 2021 is not yet finalized. According to the Milwaukee Homicide Database kept by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , 197 murders took place in Milwaukee between 2021 and 2021. According to the database, 33 homicides have occurred in 2022, while 18 occurred at the same time in 2021. If this trend continues, 2022 could mark the third consecutive year with record-high homicides within the city ( many towns saw a large rise in homicides durant the pandemic).
Charles Franklin, director of Marquette University Law School's poll, said that "crime is a major issue right now." He was speaking after a flurry of news stories about shootings and an attack on Waukesha's Christmas parade in November, which left five people dead and many others injured.
The attacker in the attack was released on $1,000 bail just days before the parade. Evers stated that he would consider GOP-backed legislation reforming bail laws to punish repeat offenders.
Franklin stated that "It's an important issue for Republicans to campaign on, and voters will be going to ask if Democrats have had a good response to the attacks yet, like Evers."
Franklin and Sykes, a conservative radio host, said Evers' decision last year to veto a bill that would have penalized localities in Wisconsin for their defunding of their police departments made him vulnerable, even though Evers was never specifically aligned with funding the police movements.
Republicans including Rebecca Kleefisch (former GOP lieutenant governor) have attacked Evers on crime and said he hasn’t done enough to increase the number of police officers. Kleefisch's September campaign launch video focused heavily upon rising crime in Wisconsin as well as Evers' response in 2020 to the protests that followed the police shot of Jacob Blake. The video did not mention the deaths of the two men killed by rioters during the protests led by Kyle Rittenhouse. Kleefisch attacked Evers' track record in crime in numerous videos that were posted to Tweet and FB over the past weeks. Her campaign stated that it currently runs two digital ads about crime targeting Evers.
Sam Roecker (evers campaign spokesperson) responded to questions about Evers' crime record and pointed out the governor's announcement last January to invest $45million in making Wisconsin safer. The state received funds from Biden's pandemic aid American Rescue Plan Act. It included $25 million to fund violence prevention efforts, as well as $20 million for victim services.
This has also been a focus of Republican criticism: Kleefisch repeatedly attacked Evers because he has not spent federal funds of $45 million to hire more officers or combat crime "on our streets."
Evers defeated Walker by less than 30,000 votes in 2018. (Biden won in 2020 by less than 21,000 votes). Evers ran what strategists described as a savvy campaign that stressed problem solving and an agenda that focused on improving education. This low-key approach appealed to voters in a purple state that had become tired of Walker's polarizing rhetoric.
Evers has been largely guided by a centrist agenda, which was the result of finding common ground between adversarial Republican Legislatures. It focuses primarily on passing budgets that boost business growth, reduce taxes for the middle-class and improve education funding.
He has a poor record of accomplishments, experts say, and a growing list of challenges that voters are seriously concerned about.
Franklin stated, "He doesn’t have a laundrylist of legislative accomplishments, because of the Republican Legislature."
According to Franklin's most recent polling, only 40% of likely Wisconsin voters indicated that they would vote for Evers this autumn, while 53 percent said they would vote for someone else. In that poll, 45 percent of respondents disapproved of his job. The poll revealed that 43 percent of respondents approve of Biden's job as president. 53 percent disapprove.
"He's a low-profile man facing an extremely energized Republican base during an off year. Sykes stated that the underlying dynamics were just too bad for him.
However, strategists, pollsters, and Wisconsin politics watchers pointed out two steps that could boost Evers' chances.
Evers began to portray himself as a defender and champion of democracy by discussing Republican efforts in order to reverse the state's vote for Biden 2020. Six bills that would have made voting more difficult for voters were vetoed by Evers.
Evers' re-election campaign in Wisconsin is just like in other closely watched states that have governor's races. A Republican governor would be able to change the state's election laws if there are two GOP-controlled branches in the state Legislature. One GOP candidate for governor, election conspiracytheorist Tim Ramthun has made this issue the centerpiece of his campaign.
Ramthun called on Wisconsin legislators decertify Biden’s win in 2020 in the state in an effort to remove Biden from office. There is no legal basis for that in Wisconsin, nor federal law. Many state Republicans continue to dispute Biden’s win in 2020 despite the results being confirmed by independent audits, judges and independent reviews.
Kleefisch, along with Kevin Nicholson, are seeking to remove the bipartisan commission which runs the elections in the state. Kleefisch did not respond to a request for comment this week. Kleefisch said that she would have certified Wisconsin's election results if she was governor.
Franklin of Marquette said, "That is one issue which boosts turnout for Democrats."
The second is to try to portray himself as moderate.
Sachin Chheda in Milwaukee, a Democratic strategist, said that neither Kleefisch nor Nicholson were doing that here. He was referring to the two top contenders for the GOP nomination. It's difficult for Republican candidates to win the middle when they embrace extremist positions.
Chheda and others stated that Evers will have to find new ways to discuss the issues that are hindering his campaign like crime and communicating his accomplishments.
However, not everyone is blaming Evers for the increase in crime.
Janet Mitchell, a Racine-based retired teacher, stated that she is not happy with rising crime, but does not believe Evers is to blame.
"I see it as Republicans raising it so often because they are playing politics. Mitchell, a Democrat, said that he doesn't believe it would be lower if there were a Republican governor.
Many voters, including Evers' four-year-old supporters, believe he should do more.
"Crime feels very important this year. He's not done enough, I don't think. Morgan Olsen, a Green Bay graphic designer, said that he handled the pandemic well, but that he still needs to do more. She voted for Evers in 2018.
Olsen stated that "we're more on the Democratic side because we are so against many of the Republican candidates here." "Not because we are big Evers fans."