Tony Evers

Anthony Steven Evers (/ˈvərz/; born November 5, 1951) is an American politician and educator who has served as the 46th governor of Wisconsin since January 7, 2019.[1][2] A member of the Democratic Party, Evers previously served as the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction.[3]

Tony Evers
46th Governor of Wisconsin
Assumed office
January 7, 2019
LieutenantMandela Barnes
Preceded byScott Walker
26th Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin
In office
July 6, 2009  January 7, 2019
GovernorJim Doyle
Scott Walker
Preceded byElizabeth Burmaster
Succeeded byCarolyn Stanford Taylor
Personal details
Anthony Steven Evers

(1951-11-05) November 5, 1951
Plymouth, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Kathy Evers
ResidenceGovernor's Mansion
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison (BA, MA, PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website

Born and raised in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Evers was educated at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, eventually receiving a Ph.D. After working as a schoolteacher for several years, he became a school administrator, serving as a principal and, later, district superintendent. Evers first ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1993 and again in 2001, losing both elections. Evers was instead appointed deputy superintendent, a position he served in from 2001 to 2009. In 2009, he ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction again, this time winning. He was reelected twice, in 2013 and 2017.

On August 23, 2017, Evers announced his candidacy for governor of Wisconsin, challenging two-term Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Walker was seen as a vulnerable incumbent and had been criticized for his education policies. Evers won the Democratic primary in August 2018. Former state representative Mandela Barnes won the primary for lieutenant governor, becoming Evers's running mate. The pair defeated the Scott Walker-Rebecca Kleefisch ticket in the general election.

Early life and career

Born in 1951 in Plymouth, Wisconsin, to a physician father,[4] Evers attended Plymouth High School.[5] He earned bachelor's (1974), master's (1978), and doctoral degrees (1986) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[6] He began his professional career as a teacher and media coordinator in the Tomah school district. From 1979 to 1980 he was principal of Tomah Elementary School, and from 1980 to 1984 he was principal of Tomah High School. From 1984 to 1988 Evers was superintendent of the Oakfield school district, and from 1988 to 1992 he was superintendent of the Verona school district. From 1992 to 2001 he was administrator of the Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA) in Oshkosh.[7]

State Department of Public Instruction (2001–2019)

Evers first ran for state superintendent, a nonpartisan post, in 1993 and was defeated by John Benson. In 2001 he came in third in the primary to Elizabeth Burmaster. After her election, Burmaster appointed Evers Deputy Superintendent, a position he held until Burmaster was appointed president of Nicolet College.[8] Evers served as president of the Council of Chief State School Officers and from 2001 to 2009 was Wisconsin's Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction.

State Superintendent

Evers then ran again in 2009, this time winning. He defeated Rose Fernandez in the general election.[9] In April 2013 Evers defeated Don Pridemore and won reelection.[10] In 2017 Evers defeated Republican candidate Lowell Holtz, a former Beloit superintendent, with about 70% of the vote.

In 2009 Evers used government email accounts for fundraising purposes.[11] He and another government employee were fined $250 each for soliciting campaign donations during work hours.[12][13]

In October 2018, a divided federal appeals court found that Evers had violated neither the U.S. Constitution's Free Exercise Clause nor its Establishment Clause when he denied bussing to an independent Catholic school because there was a nearby archdiocesan school.[14][15]

Student mental health

In 2017 Evers secured increased state investment in order to increase the number of trained professionals in schools and more funding for mental health training and cross-sector collaboration.[16]

Relations with Tribal Nations

As Superintendent, Evers worked with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council and the federally recognized tribal nations in Wisconsin to begin an MOU process with each tribal nation to outline the working partnership the state seeks to establish and grow with each sovereign nation.[17]

Funding formula proposal

Evers proposed the "Fair Funding for Our Future" school finance reform plan.[18] The plan sought to address some of the challenges with the Wisconsin school funding system and proposed changes to ensure equity and transparency in the quality of Wisconsin schools. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker never included Evers's plan in his proposed state budgets, citing the cost.[19][20]

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

In March 2016 the United States Department of Education announced that Evers had been selected to serve on the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee for Title 1, Part A of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The federal committee was charged with drafting proposed regulations for two areas of the ESSA.[21]

Sparsity Aid

Sparsity aid was enacted in Wisconsin based on recommendations from Evers's Rural Schools Advisory Council. The council stressed that declining enrollment and escalating fixed costs put added pressure on small, sparsely populated districts. Since it was implemented, hundreds of school districts have benefitted from sparsity aid.[22]

Governor of Wisconsin (2019–present)

2018 gubernatorial campaign

On August 23, 2017, Evers announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination for governor of Wisconsin in 2018.[23] He cited his 2017 reelection as state superintendent with over 70% of the vote, as well as his criticism of Governor Walker, as key reasons for deciding to run. Evers launched his first campaign advertisement against Walker on August 28, 2017.[24] Evers won the eight-candidate Democratic primary on August 14, 2018.[25] On November 6, 2018, Evers defeated Walker in the general election.


After the 2018 election, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature met in a lame-duck session and, three weeks before Evers took office, passed legislation to reduce the powers of the incoming governor and attorney general. The legislature also enacted legislation to restricting voting rights, including limits on early voting in Wisconsin and restrictions on the use of student identification cards as acceptable identification for voters. Walker signed all the legislation into law, over Evers's strong objections.[26][27] The move was "widely criticized as a power play"[26] and challenged as unconstitutional in four lawsuits variously filed by Evers, other Wisconsin Democrats, and labor unions.[28] The changes to Wisconsin voting laws were struck down by a federal court.[26]

In February 2019 Evers withdrew Wisconsin National Guard forces from the border with Mexico, where President Donald Trump had called for a "national emergency." Evers said, "There is simply not ample evidence to support the president's contention that there exists a national security crisis at our Southwestern border. Therefore, there is no justification for the ongoing presence of Wisconsin National Guard personnel at the border."[29]

In February 2019 Evers's administration prepared a budget proposal that included proposals to legalize the medical use of marijuana for patients with certain conditions, upon the recommendation from a physician or practitioner. Evers also proposed to decriminalize the possession or distribution of 25 grams or less of marijuana in Wisconsin and to repeal the requirement that users of cannabidiol obtain a physician's certification every year. Evers's marijuana proposals were opposed by Republican leaders in the Legislature.[30]

In March 2019 Evers replaced 82 appointments that Walker made in December 2018 (during the lame-duck legislative session) after a Wisconsin judge ruled that the confirmation of those appointees during the lame-duck legislative session violated the Wisconsin constitution.[31]

As of August 2019, Evers had a 54% approval rating among Wisconsin residents.[32]

Political positions

Evers has said his top three priorities are improving the Wisconsin public school system, making health care more affordable, and fixing Wisconsin's roads and bridges.[33]


Evers supports directing more funding towards K-12 education and would like to work with Republicans to do more to help underperforming schools.[34] He would like to expand Pre-K education to all students and continue the freeze of the in-state tuition price for higher education.[33]

Health care

Evers has said that Scott Walker's decisions regarding health care in Wisconsin led to higher insurance premiums for residents.[35] He has pointed out that Minnesota accepted a Medicaid expansion and has been more proactive about healthcare overall, resulting in 47% lower insurance premiums than Wisconsin's.[36] Evers supports legislation that would protect residents from being charged higher costs for health insurance due to old age or preexisting conditions. He also supports allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until the age of 26.[37] He plans to remove Wisconsin from a national lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act.[33]


Evers has cited studies showing that Wisconsin has some of the worst roads in the United States. He ran for governor on a promise to focus on improving roads and bridges, and has stated he is open to imposing a gas tax to fund the projects.[33]

Income taxes

Evers has proposed to cut income tax by 10% for Wisconsin residents who earn less than $100,000/year and families that earn less than $150,000/year. He would fund this by capping a state tax break for manufacturers and farmers at $300,000/year.[33]

Medical marijuana

Having campaigned on his support of cannabis in Wisconsin, Evers announced in January 2019 the inclusion of medical marijuana in his state budget as a "first step" towards legalization.[38] He also indicated support for recreational marijuana legalization, but prefers a statewide referendum on the issue.


In April 2019 President Trump falsely claimed that Evers vetoed legislation that would prevent doctors from "executing" newborns.[39] The New York Times described the claim as "false", noting that Evers vetoed a Republican bill that would subject doctors to prison terms if they did not resuscitate newborns that were still alive after an abortion.[39] The New York Times noted that abortions after 20 weeks are extremely rare, and that infants are hardly ever born alive after an abortion attempt; doctors may for example induce birth when the mother's health is at risk, such as during pre-eclampsia. During those situations in which the newborn is unlikely to survive, doctors and parents may opt not to adopt extreme measures of resuscitation. Under the Republican bill, the doctors would have been forced to undertake those resuscitation efforts.[39]

LGBT rights

In June 2019 Evers issued an executive order to fly the rainbow flag at Wisconsin's Capitol Building for Pride month, making it the first time the rainbow flag had ever been flown above the capitol.[40]

Personal life

Evers is married to his high-school sweetheart, Kathy.[41] They have three adult children and seven grandchildren. Evers had esophageal cancer before undergoing intensive surgery in 2008.[42]

Electoral history

Superintendent of Public Instruction (2001, 2009, 2013, 2017)

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2001
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Primary Election, February 20, 2001[43]
Independent Linda Cross 58,258 23.18%
Independent Elizabeth Burmaster 55,327 22.01%
Independent Tony Evers 45,575 18.13%
Independent Jonathan Barry 36,135 14.38%
Independent Tom Balistreri 33,531 13.34%
Independent Dean Gagnon 15,261 6.07%
Independent Julie Theis 6,783 2.70%
Scattering 458 0.18%
Total votes 251,328 100.0%
General Election, April 3, 2001[44]
Independent Elizabeth Burmaster 443,359 59.82%
Independent Linda Cross 296,601 40.02%
Independent Janet E. Van Asten 72 0.01%
Scattering 1,171 0.16%
Total votes 741,203 100.0%
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2009
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Primary Election, February 17, 2009[45]
Independent Tony Evers 89,883 34.99%
Independent Rose Fernandez 79,757 31.04%
Independent Van Mobley 34,940 13.60%
Independent Todd Price 28,927 11.26%
Independent Lowell Holtz 22,373 8.71%
Scattering 1,431 0.18% +0.06%
Total votes 256,909 100.0% +7.89%
General Election, April 7, 2009[46]
Independent Tony Evers 439,248 57.14%
Independent Rose Fernandez 328,511 42.74%
Scattering 905 0.12% +0.02%
Total votes 768,664 100.0% +6.22%
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2013
Party Candidate Votes % ±
General Election, April 2, 2013[47]
Independent Tony Evers (incumbent) 487,030 61.15% +4.01%
Independent Don Pridemore 308,050 38.67%
Scattering 1,431 0.18% +0.06%
Total votes 796,511 100.0% +3.62%
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Election, 2017
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Primary Election, February 21, 2017[48]
Independent Tony Evers (incumbent) 255,552 69.43%
Independent Lowell E. Holtz 84,398 22.93%
Independent John Humphries 27,066 7.35%
Independent Rick Melcher 703 0.10%
Scattering 703 0.19%
General Election, April 4, 2017[49]
Independent Tony Evers (incumbent) 494,793 69.86% +7.71%
Independent Lowell E. Holtz 212,504 30.00%
Independent Rick Melcher 62 0.01%
Scattering 930 0.13% -0.04%
Total votes 708,289 100.0% -11.08%

Wisconsin Governor (2018)

Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial Primary Election, 2018[50][51]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tony Evers 225,082 41.77%
Democratic Mahlon Mitchell 87,926 16.32%
Democratic Kelda Roys 69,086 12.82%
Democratic Kathleen Vinehout 44,168 8.20%
Democratic Mike McCabe 39,885 7.40%
Democratic Matt Flynn 31,580 5.86%
Democratic Paul Soglin 28,158 5.23%
Democratic Andy Gronik 6,627 1.23%
Democratic Dana Wachs 4,216 0.78%
Democratic Josh Pade 1,908 0.35%
Write-ins 221 0.04%
Total votes 537,719 100.0% +72.29%
Wisconsin Gubernatorial Election, 2018[52][53]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tony Evers 1,324,307 49.54% +2.95%
Republican Scott Walker (incumbent) 1,295,080 48.44% -3.82%
Libertarian Phil Anderson 20,255 0.76% N/A
Independent Maggie Turnbull 18,884 0.71% N/A
Green Michael White 11,087 0.41% N/A
Independent Arnie Enz 2,745 0.10% N/A
Write-ins 980 0.04% -0.02%
Total votes 2,673,308 100.0% +10.91%
Democratic gain from Republican

See also


  1. Marley, Patrick; Beck, Molly (August 14, 2018). "Wisconsin primary: Democrat Tony Evers beats GOP Gov. Scott Walker in November". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  2. Tomsyck, Teymour (October 12, 2018). "NRA campaign ad mispronounces name of Walker opponent Evers". WISC-TV. Retrieved October 20, 2018. His last name rhymes with weavers.
  4. Matthew DeFour, Wisconsin State Journal. "Tony Evers: We have to have a governor that values education".
  5. "About Tony Evers". Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. November 6, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  6. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 2009-2010,' Biographical Sketch of Tony Evers, p. 6.
  7. "Tony Evers". The Chippewa Herald. Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. March 30, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  8. "Tony Evers running for state superintendent". The Tomah Journal. Tomah, Wisconsin. November 20, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  9. Derby, Samara Kalk (April 1, 2009). "A quiet race, the Evers-Fernandez face-off for Superintendent generates little interest". The Capital Times. Madison, Wisconsin: Madison. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
  10. "Tony Evers wins state Superintendent seat, defeats Pridemore". Fox 6. April 3, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  11. Rodriguez, Aaron. "Breaking News on Tony Evers". The Hispanic Conservative. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  12. "DPI chief Evers agrees to fine". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 5, 2009. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  13. "State Superintendent Fined for Campaign Solicitation". WTMJ 4 NBC Milwaukee. Archived from the original on October 8, 2009. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
  14. Note, Recent Case: Seventh Circuit Holds Denial of Busing to Catholic School Under Wisconsin Statute Does Not Violate Free Exercise or Establishment Clauses, 132 Harv. L. Rev. 2344 (2019).
  15. St. Augustine School v. Evers, 906 F.3d 591 (7th Cir. 2018).
  16. Times, Steven Elbow | The Capital. "Tony Evers proposes 10-fold increase in school mental health funding". Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  17. "Developing Agreements between Local Education Agencies and American Indian Nations and Tribal Communities" (PDF).
  18. "Fair Funding for Our Future - FAQ". Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. November 10, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  19. "Fair Funding for Our Future". Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. November 10, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  20. Meyerhofer, Kelly. "Tony Evers calls for nearly $1.7 billion hike in state funding for K-12 schools". Retrieved October 21, 2018.
  21. "News Releases". Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  22. "Accomplishments". Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. September 24, 2018. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  23. Opoien, Jessie (August 23, 2017). "Wisconsin schools superintendent Tony Evers launches campaign for governor". The Capital Times.
  24. Johnson, Shawn (August 28, 2017). "Evers Campaign Ad Hits Walker on Foxconn". Wisconsin Public Radio News.
  25. DeFour, Matthew (August 14, 2018). "It's Evers: State schools superintendent to challenge Scott Walker in November". Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  26. Laurel White, Federal Judge Strikes Down Lame-Duck Changes To Wisconsin Voting Laws, NPR (January 17, 2019).
  27. Riley Vetterkind, Scott Walker signs all three lame-duck bills into law, (December 15, 2018).
  28. Wisconsin Democrats File 4th Lawsuit Against Lame-Duck Law, Associated Press (February 21, 2019).
  29. Katie Bernard (February 25, 2019). "Wisconsin governor pulls National Guard from southern border". CNN.
  30. Evers wants to decriminalize marijuana, legalize medical use, Associated Press (February 18, 2018).
  31. Daugherty, Owen (March 22, 2019). "Wisconsin Dem governor removes 82 Scott Walker appointees added during lame-duck session". TheHill. Retrieved March 25, 2019.
  32. "Marquette Poll: Trump's Approval Rating Remains Below 50 Percent In Wisconsin". Wisconsin Public Radio. September 4, 2019. Retrieved September 21, 2019.
  33. Journal, Mark Sommerhauser | Wisconsin State. "What would the next four years bring under Scott Walker or Tony Evers?". Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  34. Journal, Matthew DeFour | Wisconsin State. "Funding for K-12 education a major fault line in governor's race". Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  35. "Tony Evers challenges Gov. Walker's record on health care". WKOW. September 17, 2018. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  36. Press, SCOTT BAUER Associated. "Scott Walker, Tony Evers spar over cost of Wisconsin health insurance". Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  37. "Tony Evers challenges Scott Walker to drop Obamacare lawsuit". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  38. "Tony Evers likely to include 'first step' to medical marijuana in his state budget". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  39. Cameron, Chris (April 28, 2019). "Trump Repeats a False Claim That Doctors 'Execute' Newborns". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  40. CNN, Leah Asmelash and Allison Morrow. "For the first time ever, Wisconsin is flying the rainbow pride flag over its Capitol building". CNN. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  41. "DPI About Tony Evers". Department of Public Instruction. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  42. Journal, Molly Beck | Wisconsin State. "Tony Evers seeks a third term after battles with conservatives, cancer and Common Core". Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  43. "Results of Spring Primary Election - 02/20/2001" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  44. Results of Spring General Election - 04/03/2001 (PDF) (Report). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  45. "Results of Spring Primary Election - 02/17/2009" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  46. "Results of Spring General Election - 04/07/2009" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  47. "Ward by Ward Report State Superintendent of Public Instruction - 04/02/2013" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  48. "Canvass Results for 2017 Spring Primary - 2/21/2017" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  49. "Canvass Results for 2017 Spring Election - 4/4/2017" (PDF). Wisconsin State Elections Board. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  50. "Wisconsin Primary Election Results". The New York Times. August 15, 2018. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  51. "Canvass Results for 2018 Partisan Primary - 8/14/2018" (PDF). Wisconsin Elections Commission. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  53. "Wisconsin Governor Election Results". New York Times.
Political offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Burmaster
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction
Succeeded by
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Preceded by
Scott Walker
Governor of Wisconsin
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mary Burke
Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
Most recent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mike Pence
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Nancy Pelosi
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Kim Reynolds
as Governor of Iowa
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Gavin Newsom
as Governor of California
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