Evers launches first $3.5M reelection ad, touts job programs on campaign trail

NOW: Evers launches first $3.5M reelection ad, touts job programs on campaign trail

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DEFOREST, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Democratic Governor Tony Evers on Monday hit the airwaves launching a $3.5 million reelection ad and held a campaign event in Dane County as the competitive gubernatorial race heats up.

The advertisement comes as Republican candidates seeking to unseat Evers have also spent big bucks on campaign ads in recent days. During an event in DeForest, Evers said launching the ad was not in response to his opponents.

"I don't take anything for granted, whether there's one opponent or 15 opponents," Evers said. "This wasn't a response to ads or money on the other side."

In the ad, Evers doesn't attack his opponents. He instead touts the state's low unemployment rate, middle-class tax cuts he signed and Republican lawmakers passed, along with federal coronavirus aid Evers allocated to small businesses.

Evers, who rarely speaks to GOP leaders who control the state Legislature, said in the ad he's focused on "bringing people together."

"There's too much division in politics today. That's why I'm focused on bringing people together to get the results that matter," Evers said in the ad.

When asked by reporters, Evers said in DeForest he "talks to Republicans all the time," even though he admitted he hasn't spoken to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) in a while.

The first TV ad buy comes the same day Evers secured an endorsement from the Wisconsin Laborer's District Council where he toured the facility and stressed the importance of job apprentice programs.

"College is not always the best option for every kid," said Evers. "Programs like this, and others across Wisconsin, can prepare students for the jobs we need to fill today."

In March, Wisconsin's unemployment rate reached a record low, dropping to 2.8 percent, yet many jobs are left unfilled. Evers touted grants he provided to local workforce agencies designed to help them find ways to attach and retain workers.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin criticized Evers' job creation record and his first ad.

“After locking down Wisconsin’s economy, Tony Evers now wants us to believe he cares about workers and businesses – but with the middle class on the ropes while our state suffers from rising crime and plummeting education standards, no amount of ads can hide his disastrous record," said Anna Kelly, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Four Republicans, former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson, State Rep. Tim Ramthun, and Tim Michels, will face off in the August 9 primary. The winner will go head to head with Evers in November.

Kleefisch, who's leading in the polls, has run TV ads since the beginning of the year totaling about six-figures. Michels entered the race last week with a nearly $1 million ad campaign. Meanwhile, Nicholson has put in about $1 million in advertisements. Ramthun has not spent money on TV ads.

The latest Marquette Law School Poll shows Kleefisch has the most support at 32%, Nicholson 10%, and Ramthun 4%. Nearly half of respondents, 46%, are unaware who they will support. The poll was conducted before Michels' entry into the race.

The survey was conducted April 19-24, 2022, interviewing 805 Wisconsin registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. The margin of error for 363 likely Democratic primary voters is 6.6 points and for 375 Republican likely primary voters is 5.6 points.

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