In this update:

  • Upcoming Events
  • ICYMI: MU Law School Poll Results
  • Governor’s Race
  • Attorney General’s Race
  • Budget Updates
  • Post-Session Updates
  • U.S. Senate Race
  • 1st Congressional District Race
  • 3rd Congressional District Race
  • Fundraising Opportunities

Upcoming Events

ICYMI: MU Law School Poll Results

The second Marquette University Law School Poll following the primary was released on Wednesday. Quick hits from the poll can be found below:

President Joe Biden Favorability -12%

  • Favorability 42% (Was 40% in August poll)
  • Unfavorability 54% (Was 56% in August poll)

President Joe Biden Job Approval -15%

  • Approve 40% (Was 40% in August poll)
  • Disapprove 55% (Was 55% in August poll)

Sen. Ron Johnson Favorability -8%
Note: 15% of Registered Voters did not register an opinion

  • Favorability 39% (Was 38% in August poll)
  • Unfavorability 47% (Was 47% in August poll)

Governor Tony Evers Favorability +0%

  • Favorability 45% (Was 46% in August poll)
  • Unfavorability 45% (Was 41% in August poll)

Governor Tony Evers Job Approval -3%

  • 44% Approve (Was 47% in August poll)
  • 47% Disapprove (Was 45% in August poll)

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes Favorability +1%
Note: 35% of Registered Voters did not register an opinion

  • Favorability 33% (Was 37% in August poll)
  • Unfavorability 32% (Was 22% in August poll)

Tim Michels Favorability -5%
Note: 28% of Registered Voters did not register an opinion

  • Favorability 34% (Was 33% in August poll)
  • Unfavorability 39% (Was 33% in August poll)

Vote preference for Wisconsin governor among likely voters

  • Tony Evers: 47% (Was 48% in August poll)
  • Tim Michels: 44% (Was 44% in August poll)
  • Joan Beglinger: 5% (Was 4% in August poll)

Vote preference for Wisconsin governor among registered voters

  • Tony Evers: 44% (Was 45% in August poll)
  • Tim Michels: 43% (Was 43% in August poll)
  • Joan Beglinger: 8% (Was 7% in August poll)

Vote preference for U.S. Senate among likely voters

  • Ron Johnson: 49% (Was 45% in August poll)
  • Mandela Barnes: 48% (Was 52% in August poll)

Vote preference for U.S. Senate among registered voters

  • Ron Johnson: 48% (Was 44% in August poll)
  • Mandela Barnes: 47% (Was 51% in August poll)

The full report of poll results and analysis can be found here

Governor’s Race

Evers and Michels agree to participate in one debate

This week incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers and his Republican opponent, construction executive Tim Michels, announced they would participate in a single head-to-head debate prior to November’s general election. The televised debate will air statewide on October 14th, and will be organized by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. The debate will be moderated by a panel of six journalists from markets across the state who will ask the candidates questions while an additional three journalists will interact with viewers on digital and social platforms by providing background and context to claims made by the candidates.

According to, this will be the fewest number of general election debates between Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates since 1998. In that election, then-Governor Tommy Thompson was heavily favored to win and faced off in a single debate against Democratic challenger Ed Garvey. Thompson was seeking a fourth term in 1998 while Evers is running his first re-election campaign.

The Evers and Michels campaigns released a joint statement announcing the debate that said in part “there are plenty of differences between the two candidates, but we agree that voters deserve this opportunity to hear directly from each candidate. This will be the only debate between the candidates before the November election.”

Evers touts $2 billion in income tax cuts

During a taped appearance this week on WISN’s “UpFront,” Governor Tony Evers explained why undecided voters should cast their vote for him. Evers pointed to his record of fixing roads, expanding broadband, directing increased funding towards public schools, and cutting taxes. “Those are Republican and Democrat issues,” Evers said. When asked if it was fair for him to take credit for the tax cuts that were part of a GOP-crafted budget, Evers said “yeah, of course it is. I signed the bill. I proposed tax cuts.” Evers was quick to mention Republicans’ role in the tax cuts saying “I never said they didn’t play a role in that. I played a role in that. They played a role in that.”

Evers also spent time defending against criticism that his administration was not being transparent about the distribution of ARPA dollars for broadband expansion, saying he “talked to the people who have received the services and they are thrilled to have broadband.” Evers also pushed back on GOP criticism that his plan to allocate $90 million in federal pandemic relief dollars for school districts is an attempt to correct problems his administration caused by shuttering schools during the pandemic. “I did not bring this coronavirus to the state of Wisconsin. We had to react. We followed the science….across the country they were [closing schools]. Even Republican governors were doing it.”

Evers concluded his appearance by acknowledging the race for governor would be “very close” and promised to accept the results of the election.

Michels promises more support, funding for police

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels appeared alongside members of the Milwaukee Police Association for a press conference this week. Michels promised to support law enforcement officers and reduce crime across Wisconsin. He promised to fire “catch and release” DAs who Michels claimed are letting more criminals on the street. Michels also spent time drawing a connection between increased crime in Wisconsin and poor leadership in the governor’s office. “We have a governor, I believe who coddles criminals,” Michels said, referring to incumbent Governor Tony Evers. “A governor that says, ‘You know, it’s not really all their fault. They’re a victim of the society that they grew up in. We need to give them a fourth chance, a fifth chance, a sixth chance, a seventh chance.'” Michels pointed to Tony Evers’ actions to reduce Wisconsin’s prison population, saying those policies had resulted in over 900 convicted felons being granted parole. “This does not lead to a rule of law. This does not lead to a reduction of crime,” Michels protested.

Michels also promised to direct more state funding to law enforcement. “There’s $43.5 billion spent every year in the state budget. If we have to spend a little bit more money to make law enforcement more effective, to hire more police officers – Absolutely, we will do that.” Highlighting his leadership qualities as a successful construction executive, Michels said he would be a strong leader for the Legislature. “I will work with the Legislature. We will make sure we get the funding right,” Michels said. “We will make sure that we back the blue. We will make sure that the laws on the books are enforced. We will make sure that there is enough prison cells available to keep people in jail.”

Responding to Michels’ criticism, Evers’ campaign spokesman Sam Roecker told that “Tim Michels isn’t serious about improving public safety. That’s why he has failed to deliver a specific plan and refuses to support addressing gun violence as part of the solution to making communities safer.” Roecker also criticized Republicans for not increasing shared revenue, which local municipalities use to pay for law enforcement. “Tim Michels apparently wasn’t paying attention as Wisconsin Republicans, including his running mate Roger Roth, slashed local funding that communities use to hire first responders,” Roecker said. “For years, Republicans have forced communities to do more with less; That’s why Gov. Evers is working to give communities the tools they need to combat violent crime.”

New Evers ad touts plan to cut taxes, cap prescription drug prices

Tony Evers’ campaign launched a new TV ad this week that promotes his plan to cap prescription drugs prices, prosecute price gouging on gasoline, and cut taxes for working families. Evers’ campaign said the ad will be run statewide on broadcast and cable TV, but would not provide details on how much it was spending on the spot. According to, Evers has $8 million allocated for TV spots from last week through November’s election.

In the ad, Evers touts the state’s low unemployment rate and budget surplus, but acknowledges prices are rising for everyday items. “That’s why I have a plan to cap prescription drug prices, aggressively prosecute price gouging and cut taxes by another 10 percent for working families,” Evers says. “It’s the right thing to do for Wisconsin and our economy.”

Revamped Evers ad promotes education plan

A new version of an ad that was originally released in June by the Evers campaign is back on the airwaves. The ad features women who are identified by their first names and that they are a “Wisconsin Mom.” In the spot, the moms promote Evers’ background as an educator and the education policies his administration has put in place. “Our schools are now ranked in the top 10 in America,” says a woman identified as Rosamaria. Another woman identified as Jen says “Evers worked with both parties to fund schools by more than we have in the past 20 years.” The ad goes on to tout Evers’ education plan that includes investment in skills training, reduced class sizes, and expanded mental health counseling. The ad concludes with a woman identified as Stacy who says “he’s doing the right thing on education.”

See the new version:

See the June version:

Michels’ campaign releases two ads

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels’ campaign launched two ads this week. The campaign did not release any details on the new buy. In the first ad, Michels is shown standing on a pile of sinks. “Tony Evers and his cronies are throwing the kitchen sink at me,” says Michels as he dodges a sink thrown in his direction. Michels goes on to say that he’ll fight Evers’ “radical agenda, get tough on crime, and take on Madison special interests.

Watch the first ad:

The second ad is a revised version of an ad released by Michels during the primary. It features the construction executive walking through a dilapidated parking lot in Milwaukee, saying his company has worked in areas like that across America and has “witnessed the surge in crime.” Michels then says that Evers “blames the police, coddles criminals, and stood by as Kenosha burned.” The spot concludes with Michels saying “I’m Tim Michels. I’m not a politician. In the army, I swore an oath to keep America safe and that’s what I’ll do for Wisconsin.”

Watch the second ad:

Ads opposing Michels released by A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund

A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund released two new ads this week critical of GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels’ stance on abortion and gun control. The ad on abortion is airing on digital statewide, as well as on TV in Milwaukee and Madison. The ad on gun control is only being aired on digital statewide. Additional details on the buy were not provided by the group.

The abortion ad opens with the narrator saying “radical Tim Michels” supports Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban, which only allows abortion to save the life of the mother. In the spot, Michels says “that’s correct” when asked by a reporter if he “wouldn’t support exceptions for rape or incest.” The spot also reiterates previous claims that Michels’ family foundation donated to a group working to outlaw birth control, as well as another group that uses cell phone data to track women who go to an abortion center.

The spot concludes with the narrator urging viewers to “vote no on radical Tim Michels.”

See the abortion ad:

The gun control spot claims that Michels opposes closing a “loophole that lets some domestic abusers buy guns.” The spot concludes with the narrator saying Michels’ views are “dangerous and too divisive for Wisconsin.”

See the gun control ad:

Attorney General’s Race

Kaul threatens to sue DAs over state’s 1849 abortion ban

The state Department of Justice led by Attorney General Josh Kaul sent a letter this week to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, and Senate President Chris Kapenga in which it argued the GOP leaders are the appropriate parties to sue to nullify the state’s 1849 abortion ban because of the “Legislature’s repeated efforts to become involved in cases concerning the enforceability of state law” in the past. The letter comes as a response to a motion to dismiss filed by the Republican legislators in which they argued “legislators wield only the power to enact laws, not to enforce them.” DOJ called this motion “surprising” considering the Legislature’s previous efforts to become involved in cases related to the enforceability of state law. In the letter, DOJ went on to say it would “prefer not to name district attorneys as defendants,” but it would if necessary to ensure the resolution of the case is not delayed.

DOJ gave the lawmakers until Thursday to drop their motion to dismiss. “If you do not withdraw that argument, we will hold your clients to their position that they should not be involved-throughout this and any related litigation on this abortion-law question,” the letter reads. “Should your clients seek to intervene at any later point, we will object that your clients have waived any ability to be involved.” As of Friday morning, the motion to dismiss had not been dropped.

Kaul has argued the state’s 1849 abortion ban is unenforceable because more recent Wisconsin abortion laws supersede the 1849 statute.

Budget Updates

Agency Budget Requests September 15, 2022

Section 16.42 of the Wisconsin State Statutes requires state agencies (other than the legislature and the courts) to submit their budget requests for the next biennium, consistent with any fiscal policy directives the Governor directs agencies to follow in developing budget requests by September 15 of each even-numbered year. The requests include estimates of the costs to continue or improve current agency services or to create new programs or services. The requests must also include alternative budget proposals that assume no increase in state funding and a 5% decrease in state funding per fiscal year in the succeeding biennium. Below please find those agency requests that were submitted.

The next visible step in the 2023-2025 budget process is November 20th. s. 16.43, Stats. requires that by Nov. 20th of each even numbered year, the DOA Secretary must provide the Governor, or the Governor-elect, and each member of the next Legislature with a document compiling the total amount of each state agency’s biennial budget request, as well as summary information on actual and estimated revenues for the current and forthcoming biennium.

**Click on the link to see the budget request for a specific agency**

Post-Session Updates

Evers announces agreement to prevent UW Health work stoppage

Governor Tony Evers announced on Monday that an agreement had been reached between nurses, UW Health, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to forestall a planned work stoppage set for Tuesday. Speaking at the Capitol while flanked by healthcare workers and executives, Evers announced the parties had reached an agreement that will establish a process for determining whether the hospital can legally recognize and bargain with the nurses’ union. “This wasn’t easy,” Evers said at Monday’s press conference. “It took time, honesty and commitment from both sides to better communicate, and that is exactly what they did.” According to a summary of the deal that was sent to news outlets from UW Health, SEIU and UW Health have have agreed to file a joint petition with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) for a ruling “on whether the Peace Act applies to UWHCA.” The agreement also stipulates the nurses’ union will “refrain from any further work stoppages until we have concluded the regulatory/legal process to review whether UW Health is covered by the Wisconsin Peace Act and can collectively bargain with a union.”

UW Health CEO Alan Kaplan told reporters at the press conference “the hospital system has maintained for over a decade that the legal situation does not allow us to recognize a union. I know others have different opinions. This agreement finally set forth a path to resolve that question once and for all.” Speaking on behalf of the nurses’ union, nurse Colin Gills said the new agreement gives nurses involved with the union a stronger voice in the existing UW Health “shared governance” program. “We already are resetting our relationship with UW Health from one of dispute to one of a productive conversation,” Gillis said.

In a legal opinion issued in June, Attorney General Josh Kaul argued UW Health workers are authorized to collectively bargain under the Peace Act if the hospital is willing to recognize worker unions.

Watch the full press conference

Wisconsin DNR starts new effort to limit PFAS in groundwater

The Wisconsin DNR has relaunched its effort to limit toxic “forever chemicals,” collectively known as PFAS, after the Environmental Protection Agency released new health advisory guidelines cautioning that the four fluorinated compounds can be harmful to humans at concentrations thousands of times lower than a proposed 2019 rulemaking effort. Last week, Governor Tony Evers signed a scope statement that proposes adding PFOS, PFOA, PFBS and GenX chemicals to the list of contaminants under the state’s groundwater law. “Without numerical health-based standards, groundwater regulatory programs will not protect the public health of Wisconsin residents,” reads in part the scope statement. The statement sets parameters the DNR must follow in drafting a PFAS limits rule. The rule must eventually be approved by the governor, the Natural Resources Board, and the Legislature.

A similar effort by the DNR initially launched in 2019 was voted down earlier this year by the Natural Resources Board. However, when the EPA released it’s warning about the danger of PFAS in levels much smaller than proposed in the 2019 rule, Midwest Environmental Advocates petitioned the DNR to restart the rulemaking process on behalf of the League of Women Voters and a group of northern Wisconsin residents. Deputy administrator of the DNR’s environmental management Jim Zellmer said a rule needs to be approved. “PFAS is here in the state,” he said. “It is being detected in our groundwater and our public water supplies and we need to set standards.”

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate rises in August

According to a press release from the state Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin’s unemployment ticked up to 3.1% in August, a slight increase from 2.9% in June and 3% in July. Despite the increase, the state’s unemployment rate still remains below the national average of 3.7%. According to DWD Chief Economist Dennis Winters, August’s numbers are following a trend seen throughout the year and pointed to the state’s job gains in seven of the first eight months of 2022. Winters also said Wisconsin has added 5,500 nonfarm jobs in August and 49,600 nonfarm jobs over the course of 2022. Winters noted that state has recovered over 98% of the 400,000 jobs it lost because of COVID-19. Construction industry jobs in particular have rebounded, reaching a record high 132,900 jobs in August. “Wisconsin jobs continue to increase, employment is near historic highs, unemployment and unemployment rates are near historic lows, and businesses continue to hire,” Winters said.

State awarded $80 million to replace bridges

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Wisconsin has been awarded $80 million through the 2021 federal infrastructure law to help cover the cost to replace the I-39/90/94 bridges over the Wisconsin River in Columbia County. The project was one of 26 throughout the country that received a total $1.5 billion in federal grant awards According to the state DOT, the overall project is expected to cost $156.1 million and is scheduled to be done in 2024.

U.S. Senate Race

Johnson says abortion should be left to states

GOP Senator Ron Johnson is not signaling support for new legislation introduced this week by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks and includes exceptions in the case of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. In an email, Johnson spokeswoman Alex Henning said the senator believes “this is a profound moral issue and agrees with the Dobbs decision to allow the democratic process to unfold in each state to determine at what point does society has a responsibility to protect life.”

Johnson’s Democratic opponent Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes pointed out that Johnson supported past versions of Graham’s bill that included a ban after 20 weeks. Johnson also signed an amicus brief in support of a law banning abortion after 15 weeks in Mississippi. “Ron Johnson’s willingness to compromise women’s freedoms and put their lives at risk is disqualifying.” Barnes said in a press release. “Once again, he’s proving how out of touch he is with our lives and our values.”

Poll from NRSC shows Johnson leading Barnes

The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) is out with a new internal poll this week showing incumbent GOP U.S. Senator Ron Johnson leading his Democratic rival Mandela Barnes by 4 percentage points. The results are within the poll’s margin of error, which is +/- 3.6%. The poll was conducted by OnMessage Inc. September 11-13 and found 49% of likely voters supported Johnson while 45% supported Barnes. The poll surveyed 800 likely voters using live callers. FiveThirtyEight rates OnMessage Inc. a B/C pollster.

According to, the OnMessage Inc. poll also found:

  • 44.1% supported a generic Republican for Congress, while 43% supported a Dem.
  • 27.4% said the nation is moving in the right direction, while 64.5% said it’s on the wrong track.
  • 43.6% had a favorable impression of President Joe Biden, while 51.6% had an unfavorable one.

The results of the poll track with a recent Marquette University Law School Poll conducted September 6-11 that also showed Johnson gaining ground on Barnes. In that poll, Johnson was supported by 49% of likely voters while 48% backed Barnes.

NRSC ad questions Barnes’ judgement on funding police

The National Republican Senate Committee (NRSC) released a new ad this week claiming Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Mandela Barnes is a “defund the police Democrat.” According to the NRSC, the spot will run on TV and digital as part of a six-figure buy.

The spot features a clip of Barnes who says “The minute you talk about reducing a police department’s budget, then it’s like all hell breaks loose. It’s about reallocating funds.” The narrator says Barnes is “talking about defunding the police,” and as a result “murder is up in Milwaukee 40 percent, the fourth-highest increase in the country.”

The ad concludes with the narrator saying “Mandela Barnes. A dangerous Democrat.”

Ad from The Senate Leadership Fund says Barnes is “wrong on crime”

The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Republicans in the U.S. Senate, is out with a second round of ads this week critical of positions Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes has taken on public safety. According to reports filed with the FEC, the super PAC has spent nearly $5.1 million on independent expenditures over the past two weeks, including over $3.1 million on TV.

The ad claims Barnes would “eliminate cash bail, setting accused criminals free into the community before trial.” The ad says Barnes supports defunding the police even with high rates of shootings, murders, robberies, car jackings, and attacks on police.

The narrator concludes the ad, “Mandela Barnes. He stands with them, not us.”

See the TV ad: 

Hear the radio ad:

See the 15-second digital version:

Ad from MoveOn Political Action calls Johnson “out-of-touch MAGA millionaire”

Move On Political Action, a PAC that runs progressive advocacy campaigns by bundling hundreds of thousands of small donations together to elect progressive candidates, ran an ad during last weekend’s Green Bay Packers game in the Milwaukee and Green Bay media markets critical of “millionaire MAGA Republican Ron Johnson.” The ad claims Johnson is out of touch for using private jets and being “upset his net worth has only doubled” during his time in office. The ad also says Johnson voted against “lowering drug prices and capping insulin costs,” “jobs and clean energy” and “taxing the wealthy and big corporations.”

The ad concludes with the narrator saying “Our wallets can’t take any more out-of-touch MAGA millionaires.”

Senate Majority PAC releases two ads opposing Johnson

The Democratic-aligned Senate Majority PAC (SMP) put out two new ads this week opposing Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson’s re-election bid. One ad targets Johnson’s position on abortion while the other claims he is personally profiting from high gas prices and prescription drug costs. SMP said the abortion ad is a $1.6 million buy that will air in the Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay Markets. The ad on high prices is part of a $1.9 million buy that will air in the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau and La Crosse markets.

The abortion ad features a young woman identified as Kaitlyn from Green Bay who says she was a victim. She says “Sen. Ron Johnson supported the decision outlawing abortion in Wisconsin – even for victims of rape and incest.” Kaitlyn then concludes the ad saying “when I think about the other victims and what they’re going to have to go through because of Ron Johnson…He doesn’t share our values.”

See the abortion ad:

The second ad features a woman identified as Heather from Appleton who says “prices are going up on groceries, they’re going up at the gas station…The only ones profiting are oil companies, big corporations, China and Ron Johnson.” Heather then claims Johnson makes his money from investments in China and has allowed oil and drug companies to “jack up prices on us.”

“Ron Johnson profits. We pay the price,” Heather says to conclude the ad.

See the ad:

1st Congressional District Race

Steil releases ad touting support for law enforcement

Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Bran Steil released the first ad of his re-election campaign this week that highlights his support for law enforcement. According to Steil’s campaign, the spot is part of a six-figure buy that will air on broadcast and cable TV across southeastern Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.

The ad features a diverse group of people identified as police officers who say “there has never been a tougher time to be a police officer.” “That’s why we need leaders who will always have our back,” says a female officer. The other officers then say individually in sequence “and Bryan Steil always has our back.”

The spot then features Steil who says that he’s “fought for law enforcement officers every step of the way.” He closes the ad saying “I’m Bryan Steil and I approve this message because I will never stop working for them. Or you.”

3rd Congressional District Race

On Monday, Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s 3rd CD Brad Pfaff issued a press release challenging his Republican opponent Derrick Van Orden to a series of three debates. Arguing “voters in this district need and deserve accountability” Pfaff challenged Van Orden “to appear on stage at three separate venues to debate the issues facing this district.” “Anything short of a full acceptance of this challenge means that Derrick is either incapable of engaging in a candid and frank conversation about real solutions to voters’ real concerns, or he is too afraid of me and the voters of this district to risk a transparent and public event,” said Pfaff.

Responding to the challenge in a press release, Van Orden said he’s “done playing Professional Politician Pfaff’s games.” He also said 75% of residents in the 3rd CD do not have a four year degree and “they deserve to ask the questions.” Van Orden promised to take part in a debate with Pfaff “if the media will provide a town hall style setting so the people of this district can take part.”

Fundraising Opportunities

A list of all upcoming fundraiser opportunities can be found by clicking the button below. For any questions or more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Michael Best Strategies contact.

Wisconsin Campaign Fundraisers


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