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Gov. Scott Walker calls himself the education governor. Tony Evers is calling him out.

“He has no credibility on the issue,” Evers, state superintendent of public schools and Democratic candidate for governor, told the Tribune Wednesday. “He has cut millions in funding ... just because he was able to play Santa Claus for a year doesn’t give him credibility.”

Evers, who has the support of 25 percent of Democratic voters according to the newest Marquette Poll released earlier Wednesday, is confident he will be the candidate to take on Walker after the August primary election.

He cited his name recognition and presence throughout the state, ability to find common ground on issues important to both parties and positive election record.

Calling education his “wheelhouse” and Walker’s “weakness,” Evers said he believes Walker’s goal to have Wisconsin boast the nation’s highest graduation rate by 2023 will not come to fruition.

“The graduation rate is important, but it’s not going to be through his methodology,” Evers said.

The poll results released Wednesday showed 44 percent of those responding support Evers to Walker’s 48 percent, with about a third of Democratic voters undecided on their primary candidate in a crowded field.

Evers believes his message is resonating, and will continue to make a presence on both social media and in person to secure his place as the Democratic candidate, pushing education, natural resource, health care and infrastructure issues.

Calling the recent Trempealeau County mine spill a “wake-up call” about the byproducts of frac mining, Evers supports an independent secretary to lead the Department of Natural Resources and stresses allowing science, not politics, to be the “driving force” in environmental issues.

Evers said he favors distributing funds to schools equitably, not equally, to ensure struggling schools have their needs met. He would like to reprioritize resources for schools and public education, noting we “can’t afford” to have defunding lead to second-rate institutions.

Economic development should happen on a local level, Evers said, with decisions and resource distribution made locally to ensure support of startup and growing businesses.

“People aren’t asking for handouts like Foxconn,” Evers said. “They’re just asking for a loan.”

Some have criticized Evers for what they describe as his calm approach to politics, but he believes attacks don’t beget success.

“Aggression and shouting doesn’t transfer to leadership,” Evers said. “If Democrats don’t provide positive voices around values, they won’t win.”

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Emily Pyrek can be reached at


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