Gubernatorial candidates air millions of dollars in ads


It’s not yet Memorial Day, and the airwaves are already full of ads for top gubernatorial candidates.

The ads will compete with the many commercials that have aired for weeks in the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Ron Johnson.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in early May an- nounced the first TV ad of his reelection bid, part of a $3.5 million buy running through early August.

Evers, who’s had a contentious relationship with GOP legislative leaders, says in the first ad that he's "fo cused on bringing people together.”

The campaign said the ad buy includes every major Wisconsin broadcast market and will run statewide on cable. The buy runs through the Aug. 9 primary.

The 60-second ad is narrated by character actor J.K. Simmons. He opens it by saying, "We've been through a lot in the last few years.”

Simmons says "Our gov ernor is determined to do what’s right for us” before adding Evers invested "over a billion dollars to help thousands of small businesses prevent layous and create jobs,” worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass middle-class income tax relief to battle rising costs, fixed "our roads" and has the state’s public schools in the nation’s top 10.

Simmons adds the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in its history and "billions in budget sur plus.”

Evers then closes the spot, "Folks, 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 is going on the air with his first ad around the same time that his predecessor did in 2018. Then- Gov. Scott Walker launched the first ad of his reelection bid on May 1, 2018. The liberal One Wisconsin Now said that buy was $1.3 million through July, according to the archive.

In addition, the Democratic Governors Association announced the group and its allies have reserved $21 million in TV ads this fall to boost Evers’ reelection bid.

The initial reservation is part of a larger $75 million buy that also includes Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and New Mexico.

It comes after the Republican Governors Association announced it planned to spend $6.2 million in Wisconsin as part of a $31.4 mil- lion buy in five states. The RGA’s Wisconsin buy includes the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, La Crosse, and Wausau media markets and runs Sept. 7-Nov. 8. The DGA buy in Wisconsin includes broadcast and cable, the group said. It will be done through the group’s entity WI-Alliance for Common Solutions.

Meanwhile, GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels — the latest major candidate in the race for the GOP nomination in August — is out with a new TV ad in which he touts growing the construction business his father started.

It’s part of an ad campaign that some predict will total in the tens of millions of dollars. In the spot, the wealthy construction executive says his dad "risked everything" to start the company and was the welder while his mom drove the dump truck.

"Nothing fancy about that. But it was theirs,” he says.

Michels says he’s proud to follow in his father’s footsteps and has grown the company to more than 8,000 employees from a few hundred.

"I'm not a politician. I'm a businessman who knows how to get things done, create jobs and how to lead, and that’s exactly what I’ll do as governor,” Michels says.

Candidates’ appeals won’t just be on TV and radio. They’ll also try to get voters’ attention through the mail.

Note a recent mail piece from Michels that says he’s a business leader, builder and a veteran, but not a politician.

The piece touts Michels’ 12 years in the Army and his work to build the family business, Michels Corp. The piece also says he was born and raised in Brownsville, Wis., and he and his wife live in Hartland. That section of the mailer bolds "Hartland, Wisconsin." Mi chels has faced questions recently about his time living out east, where his kids went to school. Michels has said he split time between Wisconsin and the East Coast, where he oversaw a project for the Michels Corp.

For more, visit WisPolitics. com The Capitol Report is written by the editorial sta at, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

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May 17, 2022