Wis. gov signals he's ready for fight against 'homophobic,' 'transphobic' Republicans

Thu. June 3, 2021 6:19 AM by Gerald Farinas

photo credit // twitter.com
Considered one of the most progressive governors in Wisconsin's recent history, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is gearing up for a nasty re-election campaign in 2022.

With no official announcement yet, Evers' hiring of a new campaign manager, communication director, finance director, and strategic initiatives director, signals he is up for a fight.

He also signed executive orders banning the state from using taxpayer dollars for conversion therapy and directing state departments to use gender-neutral language in all documents.

Cassi Fenili will be in charge of the campaign. She served as deputy campaign manager for Evers' first run for governor.

Sam Roecker will serve as campaign spokesman. He was formerly manager for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's failed presidential campaign in Iowa.

In charge of the campaign war chest will be Haley Barbour, former political director for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's failed presidential campaign in Iowa.

Evers currently has $3.4 million cash at hand, according to a recent campaign finance report.

Strategy will be at the hands of Atanu Chakravarty, a former executive of the Democratic Governors Association.

“Over the past two years Gov. Evers has already taken bold action to get our state back on track. Now, this team and our supporters across Wisconsin are ready to continue building support for the governor's Badger Bounceback plan and keep Wisconsin moving in the right direction,” Fenili said in a statement.

On June 1, Evers ordered the LGBT Pride flag raised over the state capitol building—despite protests from state Republicans.

“For the third year in a row, we kicked off Pride month by raising the rainbow Pride flag above the state capitol. It's never been more important to celebrate the vibrance, resilience, and contributions of our LGBT neighbors who help make our state great,” Evers said on the occasion.

“We're also continuing to support LGBT Wisconsinites, so I was proud to sign two executive orders preventing using state and federal funds for conversion therapy in Wisconsin and directing my cabinet agencies to use gender-neutral language in their public-facing documents,” he continued.

“These executive orders today recognize the work we have to do as a state to protect, support, and celebrate all of our LGBT neighbors, especially our kids, and ensure our state is a safe, inclusive, and just place where every person thrives.”

The former state schools superintendent has been battling a Republican party entrenched with Trump-backers, led by House Speaker Robin Vos, that in recent weeks has fought the raising of the LGBT Pride flag over the capitol building, stop transgender youth from competing in elementary, intermediate, high school, and even University of Wisconsin system programs.

Republican leader Vos recently defended Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn, who established a school that, if students and faculty are found to be LGBT, to be expelled. Despite that, Vos argued that Hagedorn would be fair to LGBT persons coming before the state's highest court.

Earlier this year, Vos demanded Gov. Evers lower the state's flags in honor of Rush Limbaugh upon his death. Limbaugh famously poked fun of and argued against LGBT persons and LGBT rights.

Evers denied the request, even noting Limbaugh's homophobia and transphobia.

Using his heavy-handed authority in the legislature, Vos passed laws that took away powers from Evers in 2018, before he took office. Outgoing Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the law. The elected conservative-leaning Supreme Court decided Vos' actions were constitutional.

Since Evers' 2019 inauguration, Republicans have denied the governor his progressive legislative agenda—including the ability to introduce mask mandates during the height of the pandemic.

Vos ally, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, is expecting to run for the Republican nomination.