Gov. Scott Walker will not be serving a third term in office.
Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s superintendent of public instruction, has won the governorship, according to the Associated Press.
Walker’s loss comes after weeks of too-close-to-call polling, the latest of which showed the governor and Evers neck and neck.
In the last weeks of the campaign, Walker was trailing in areas he had taken with ease in 2014, including parts of northern Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Law School Poll.
Despite the close race, Walker seemed poised to win, given his aggressive campaigning and the state’s strong economy. At 3 percent, Wisconsin has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. And newly released federal data show manufacturing employment in the state has increased since last year.
Still, there was a fear within the Walker camp that independents would not turn out to vote Republican this week. Walker made a last-ditch effort to appeal to moderate voters with television ads, most of which articulated the governor’s promise to protect health-care coverage of pre-existing conditions—an idea many other Republican leaders have actively fought against. He also promised to dedicate more money to better the state’s roads and to fund public schools.
The strategy seems to have failed.
The Walker loss is a massive relief for Democrats in the state who for years spent millions of dollars to try to oust him from office. That fight started soon after Walker started his first term as governor and passed Act 10, a law that slashed collective-bargaining rights, compensation, and retirement and health insurance for public-sector employees, including teachers. The legislation garnered national attention and spurred massive protests in the rotunda of the capitol building in Madison in 2011. But Walker survived the efforts levied against him and won a recall vote in 2012 and re-election in 2014.
In the two weeks leading up to the midterms, the Democrats enlisted President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders to rally for Evers and the rest of the party.
Evers, a former educator, has promised to increase investments in early-childhood education and public schools and to allow Wisconsinites to refinance their student loans at a lower interest rate.