MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Republican challenger Tim Michels, locked in a tight race with implications on the 2024 presidential race in the battleground state, were scheduled to meet Friday for their one and only debate.
Evers has cast himself as the only block against a Republican-controlled Legislature. Michels, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, calls himself a political outsider as he largely self-finances his run.
Evers has tried to make the race a referendum on abortion rights, while Michels has largely focused on crime.
Michels, who co-owns the state's largest construction firm, argues that Evers has failed to improve schools, control crime or open the state fast enough during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evers contends that democracy itself is on the line in the race and a Michels victory would result in massive changes most voters would oppose.
Recent polls have shown the race to be about even.
The winner will be in position to determine how elections will run in the 2024 presidential race. Republicans have pushed for a wide array of changes, all blocked by Evers, after Trump narrowly lost the state in 2020. They did not call for the changes after Trump won Wisconsin by a nearly identical margin in 2016.
Michels has said he would sign bills making it more difficult to vote absentee. He also wants to disband the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission.
The hour-long debate is sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association. The election is Nov. 8.