The red wave of 2022 crashed in Wisconsin’s purple electorate on Tuesday resulting in a split decision for the Wisconsin GOP. Senator Ron Johnson defeated Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes but businessman Tim Michels lost to Gov. Tony Evers. Why did Michels lose when Johnson won? As I explain for the good folks at CNN, maybe he just needed more women.
The overturning of Roe v. Wade meant Wisconsin’s abortion ban from 1849 went back into effect. Michels supported the no-exceptions law but then flip-flopped and said he could support exceptions for rape and incest. Johnson, for his part, successfully deflected the issue by saying he wanted Wisconsin’s abortion law to go to referendum.
Another issue that may have soured women voters on Michels was the allegation of a culture of sexual harassment within his company. Evers’ campaign unsurprisingly jumped at the opportunity to argue that “the culture comes from the top.” (In response to the allegations against his company, Michels said: “These unproven allegations do not reflect the training and culture at Michels Corporation. Harassment in the workplace should not be condoned, nor tolerated, nor was it under Michels Corporation leadership.”) Michels’ divisive primary fight against former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch also didn’t help his appeal to women voters, especially in Kleefisch’s home county of Waukesha, formerly a key to a Republican victory in Wisconsin.
I’m going to have a more lengthy analysis in the “Life, Under Construction” newsletter on Thursday, available by subscription.