Gov. Tony Evers vetoes bills making it harder to vote on Aug. 10 | Evers’ YouTube
A new political advertisement against Gov. Tony Evers is pushing the bounds of race-baiting tactics during Wisconsin’s midterm election. Paid for by a conservative political action committee called Restoration PAC the ad, which is called “poison,” implies that Evers supports judging students by the color of their skin, particularly white students.
The ad appeared online as voters went to the polls during the early voting period in Wisconsin before the Tuesday election. Beginning with an image of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the quote, “Judge people by their character and actions, not the color of their skin,” a voice-over accuses Evers of leading “an agency that suggested white people wear ‘privilege’ wrist bands.” The advertisement cites an article which appeared on Breitbart News in early October. Breitbart is a well-known right-wing political website that has been accused of promoting racist, xenophobic, and anti-LGBTQ content.
The anti-Evers advertisement also slams Evers for vetoing bills it claims would have prevented students from being judged by their skin color. Evers vetoed several bills that emerged during debates about curtailing so-called critical race theory, and restricting the way certain topics like the American slave trade or the genocide of indigenous tribes are taught in schools. When the advertisement mentions the vetoes, an image of two children — one white and one black, is shown alongside an image of Evers. According to the 2022 census, Wisconsin is 87% white with the majority of its Black population historically being situated in the Milwaukee-area, a region shaped by decades-long red lining and segregation.
The advertisement is part of a flood of negative ads in Wisconsin, which this year had the most costly governor’s race in the country. Other negative advertisements with racial overtones focused on U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, who is African American. Some of those ads accused Barnes of supporting criminals and featured darkened photographs that made his complexion appear darker than it is. Community organizations in Milwaukee denounced the tone of those advertisements.
Restoration PAC has made very few videos focused on Wisconsin. Its material, focused on other states such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, advocates for policies like voter I.D. In 2018, the PAC spent significant funds to try to defeat U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
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