Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Closer look at the big primary winners: Tony Evers and Leah Vukmir
Tony Evers will challenge Gov. Scott Walker and Leah Vukmir will take on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Tony Evers will challenge Gov. Scott Walker and Leah Vukmir will take on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Tony Evers will challenge Gov. Scott Walker and Leah Vukmir will take on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher August 15, 2018

Here’s a closer look at the two big winners in the Aug. 14, 2018 primary elections in Wisconsin: Republican Leah Vukmir and Democrat Tony Evers.

Vukmir, a state senator, defeated political newcomer Kevin Nicholson to win the right to challenge U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., in the fall.

Meanwhile, Evers, the state schools superintendent, bested seven other Democrats to be the nominee to challenge GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Leah Vukmir on the Truth-O-Meter

Vukmir attacks on Baldwin: Vukmir earned a Half True in saying Baldwin's record includes "opposing harsher punishments for criminals who commit violent crimes near schools." Baldwin’s record in the state Legislature included one such vote, but also votes in support of tougher penalties for crimes involving children ….

The rating was Mostly False when Vukmir, in another claim about Baldwin’s time in the Legislature, said Baldwin "opposed displaying the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem in our classrooms." Baldwin voted once against imposing requirements on schools on those shows of patriotism, but ignored other Baldwin votes supportive of the flag and pledge ….

The rating slipped to Pants on Fire when she said Baldwin is "more worried about the mastermind of 9/11" than supporting CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. Vukmir provided no information to back up an extreme claim that Baldwin had serious concern for a terrorist that it was motivating Baldwin not to support President Donald Trump’s nominee ...

And when Vukmir said Baldwin "claims to support a 'Buy America' philosophy, but her actions speak louder than her empty words," our rating was False. Vukmir cited several broad matters that relate to the economy, but none that specifically applied to undermining Buy American initiatives. Meanwhile, Baldwin has been engaged with other "Buy American" actions. Indeed, at times her views seem to align with Trump’s "America First" policies.

Club for Growth attacks on Vukmir: The conservative Club for Growth was correct in its attack when it said Vukmir "claimed the open records law didn't apply to her, got sued, lost and cost taxpayers $15,000 in legal fees." The case involved Vukmir’s role with the American Legislative Exchange Council ….

And it earned a Mostly True for saying Vukmir "wrote a letter seeking leniency for a fellow state legislator convicted of sexual assault." She did write a character reference letter to the judge who was about to sentence the legislator.

Trump support, no and yes: Vukmir was wrong in claiming she has "always been there with" Donald Trump. She’s a big backer of his now, but she didn’t back him, and she criticized him, before he won the 2016 presidential nomination.

Immigration issues: Vukmir got a Pants on Fire for saying Mark Pocan’s proposal to eliminate the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would "eliminate border enforcement." Pants on Fire. A different federal agency is responsible for patrolling the border, so border enforcement would continue even if ICE were eliminated. And, in any case, Pocan, a Democratic congressman from the Madison area, was not proposing to end border enforcement ….

Vukmir also got a Half Flip for a partial change in her position on separating families at the border. Vukmir never explicitly declared support for separating children from their parents at the border. But she went from stating no opposition to the practice, and saying laws must be upheld, to saying it shouldn’t happen.

Tony Evers on the Truth-O-Meter

Evers attacks on Walker: Evers was wrong in saying that since Walker has been governor, "we’ve gone from 50 percent state funding for the" University of Wisconsin System "to 15 percent." State funding made up about 21 percent, not 50 percent, of the UW Systems’ operating budget when Walker took office. It’s now at 17 percent, not 15 percent ….

And when Evers said that despite a recent increase in school funding, Walker "has taken over a billion dollars from the public schools," our rating was Mostly False.

Walker attack on Evers: Walker was wrong when he stated: "By law, Democrats gave the superintendent of public instruction, back in 2009, the ability to take over failing schools … The current superintendent has failed to do that." While the law in questions allows the state superintendent to order various interventions, it does not have a provision for a complete takeover. A different law allows the local county executive to take action. That process was begun in Milwaukee, but did not advance. In addition, Milwaukee Public Schools no longer falls into the bottom category of the state's school and district report cards, and therefore no longer qualifies for the interventions under the state law.

GOP attacks on Evers: Initially, the Wisconsin Republican Party said Evers "allowed a middle-school teacher found guilty of spreading pornographic material at school to keep teaching students." Our rating was Mostly False. The teacher was not found guilty of, or even charged with, any crime. Rather, he was fired for viewing pornographic material on his school computer. He got his job back, however, after an arbitrator ruled that the firing was not justified, in part because the arbitrator concluded that the behavior did not endanger any students. Evers had the discretion to initiate license revocation proceedings. But state law at the time required the endangerment of kids in order to revoke a teacher’s license and, like the arbitrator, Evers concluded that the teacher’s conduct didn’t endanger kids ….

Later, the GOP changed its wording, saying Evers "didn't revoke the license of a teacher caught spreading pornography and commenting on the bodies of middle-school girls." That rated Half True.

Foxconn and solar: Evers claimed Wisconsin ‘could compel’ Foxconn to install solar panels that would power 33,000 homes. We rated that Mostly False. Experts said the quoted capacity is theoretically possible, though it would be extremely expensive and vastly larger than anything put on a roof in the world to date. Meanwhile, Foxconn construction is underway and incentive agreements have been signed, so the state doesn’t appear to have a route to force such action unless outside factors lead to reopened negotiations.


Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

PolitiFact Wisconsin items as noted

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Kertscher

Closer look at the big primary winners: Tony Evers and Leah Vukmir