Wineke: Evers is an underestimated winner

Wisconsin Candidates Make Final Push Ahead Of Election Day
Susan Walsh - staff, AP

FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an event attended by President Joe Biden at Henry Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee, Sept. 5, 2022. Evers and U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes planned to rally Monday, Nov. 7, 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.

MADISON, Wis. — If Tuesday’s election showed nothing else, it demonstrated that Gov. Tony Evers is one of the most underestimated politicians in the state.

I think the reason is that he looks and acts like a school superintendent.

Maybe that’s because he was a school superintendent, serving districts in Tomah, Oakfield and Verona before being elected Superintendent of Public Education.

Republicans saw him as weak and liberal. Democrats fretted that he lacked charisma, but he keeps getting elected. That’s not totally surprising when you look at the qualities that make a good school superintendent.

Superintendents have to deal with a number of conflicting bodies of people; administrators need to balance the demands of teachers, parents and students, of elected school boards, and with local, state and federal bureaucrats.

Every single one of them thinks they can do the job better than the man or woman who actually holds the position. They have to balance demands for ever-better teaching and lower taxes. And the school administrator has to learn how to get along personally with the advocates for every cause.

That sounds like pretty good preparation for being a governor.

The job is doubly difficult in Wisconsin because our voters in all their presumed wisdom keep electing a legislature made up of people who largely owe their own electoral success to making sure the governor can’t accomplish anything.

The first thing the Legislature did when Evers was elected in 2019 was to strip the office of most of its powers.

Then it refused to confirm many of his appointees, a bizarre situation exacerbated by a Supreme Court that ruled the previous governor’s appointees could stick around until their successors were confirmed.

Through it all, Evers remained unflappable school administrator Tony. It drove many of his Democratic supporters nuts, but he governed and governs the state.

One other quality of a successful school superintendent is actually getting things done. It makes for boring politics, but, I submit, for fairly decent government.