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GOP Wis. Gov. Scott Walker Loses Bid For A Third Term


Political analysts are paying special attention to three governors' races that Democrats won last night. They won the statewide races in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. Those are three states President Trump surprisingly won in 2016, without which he would not be president. And all three just voted Democratic. In Wisconsin, they dismissed longtime Republican Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin Public Radio's Shawn Johnson is covering this story and is on the line. Good morning.


INSKEEP: So what, if anything, feels different in Wisconsin today than in 2016?

JOHNSON: Well, I guess what we all wondering after 2016 was whether some of these counties in Wisconsin, some of these areas in Wisconsin that President Trump flipped were sort of flipped for good. And the answer that we have today is that, no, they were not, that there were Democrats in the race for governor and U.S. Senate here who won Trump-Obama counties. We have a lot of swing counties here. They are still swinging. I mean, they're still in play. And today, Democrats have wins in both of those races.

INSKEEP: Well, that's really interesting. I know it's hard to generalize about different parts of a diverse state. But when you look at these Trump-Obama counties, who's there - working-class people, white, black? Who are we talking about?

JOHNSON: I mean, Wisconsin is predominately a white state. And so you're talking about rural areas where they have a willingness to support either party - I mean, that there is enough independent voters there that it still swings. And so yes, the president is - I mean, President Trump came here and tried to appeal to those voters up in parts of northern Wisconsin in this election cycle.

INSKEEP: They weren't listening. They weren't having it.

JOHNSON: They weren't. No. I mean, in certain sections like southeast Wisconsin, which tends to flip back and forth with the winners of every race - and, last night, they flipped to the Democrats.

INSKEEP: And the Democrat, in particular, that they flipped to on the statewide level was Tony Evers, who's now the governor-elect. Who is he?

JOHNSON: Tony Evers has been in education in one form or another for years. He's been Wisconsin's state superintendent of public instruction for three terms. He was a superintendent, a principal, a teacher before that and very mild-mannered guy - I mean, kind of soft-spoken, not exactly somebody who is known as a great orator or debater but wore that educator label very, I guess, proudly in this race and stressed that in his ads that he would be different than Walker when it came to education. His other big issue was health care in this race and talking about pre-existing conditions. And that's something you heard in the Senate race, too.

INSKEEP: Let's underline, for people who may not recall, that Scott Walker battled with teachers' unions and battled with Democrats over education throughout almost his entire tenure as governor.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. And he's actually - as we talked today - has not yet conceded in this race - it's within about 31,000 votes - and raised the prospect that, you know, he may continue to fight this in some kind of a recount, although that's a big margin to overcome.

INSKEEP: Thirty-one thousand votes in a state where there were several million votes cast?

JOHNSON: There were about 2.5 million votes cast yesterday. So you're looking at a little more than a 1 percent difference between Scott Walker and Tony Evers.

INSKEEP: Very briefly - is this correct, that even though Democrats had more votes across the state, Republicans - because of the way they have drawn the district lines - keep the congressional delegation on the legislature?

JOHNSON: They keep the congressional delegation. They actually gained a seat in our Wisconsin state Senate. So yeah, the district lines are definitely in play here. They were able to hold on to power there.

INSKEEP: Shawn, thanks very much, really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: You're welcome.

INSKEEP: Shawn Johnson is the Capitol bureau chief for Wisconsin Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Shawn Johnson covers the State Capitol for Wisconsin Public Radio. Shawn joined the network in 2004. Prior to that he worked for WUIS-FM, a public radio station in Springfield, Illinois. There, Shawn reported on the Illinois legislature. He also managed the station's western Illinois bureau, where he produced features on issues facing rural residents. He previously worked as an Assistant Producer for WBBM-AM radio in Chicago.