MILWAUKEE - Kenosha burned two years ago Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2020. The riots erupted after a police officer shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake. Republicans are using it to hammer Democratic Governor Tony Evers. The governor defended his response and presented a new plan to cut taxes ahead of November's election.
Governor Evers said new estimates will show the state will have a $5 billion budget surplus. That’s even more than the unprecedented surplus already predicted. Now, he's calling for cutting income taxes for many Wisconsinites by 10%, but Republicans say it’s a distraction from what happened in 2020.
Two years after a police officer shot Jacob Blake, two years after riots erupted in Kenosha and two years after people torched a Kenosha car lot and furniture store, Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels joined attorney general candidate Eric Toney, Congressman Bryan Steil and police to tour the sites.
"I give you my pledge that Kenosha, nor any other community in Wisconsin will ever burn again," said Michels. "We will shut it down in the first few minutes. I will be here."
Republicans pointed to the governor’s statement the day a police officer shot Blake seven times. Evers tweeted: "While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country."
An officer shot Blake on a Sunday. On that Monday, Evers sent in 125 National Guard troops. That Tuesday, he bumped it up to 250. Evers said he responded to the official requests of local leaders.
"Look at these photos behind me. That’s a situation where I would send in the Guard," said Michels. "This should not happen. Governor Evers should not have allowed this to happen, and by his inaction, he allowed this to happen."
"That’s a lie," said Evers. "I did everything I was asked to do by the leaders in Kenosha, everything in a timely fashion, so if he wants to run his campaign on lies, that’s not a way to get elected. That’s a stupid thing."
"This is not enough," said Steil. "If this is enough, you’re disconnected. Now, I accept the statement that he has made that he fulfilled all requests made through official channels. That sounds like something you’d get from the DMV if you failed to initial a form. This is a situation where a leader picks up the phone and calls people on the ground."
On Tuesday, Evers announced his proposal for $600 million in tax relief.
"Wisconsinites have been through a lot," said Evers. "Like I said, there is no reason that these dollars should sit in Madison when we can be putting them to work for the people of our state."
The Legislature's Republican leaders didn't vote on the governor's earlier plan for the state's surplus. In reaction to the newest proposal, they again rejected it, calling it an election year "tax gimmick." While Michels linked it back to Kenosha.
"Tony Evers knows that today is the two-year anniversary of perhaps his largest failure, and he’s trying to cloak it over," said Michels. "People aren’t going to be fooled by that. If you like Tony Evers because of his tax cut, you’re going to love me."
Looking at the latest Marquette University Law School Polls, inflation was the top issue for Wisconsin voters followed by gun violence and crime, issues you see playing out on today's campaign trail.
The Kenosha County District Attorney ruled he would not charge Officer Rusten Sheskey for the Blake shooting.
Days after the Blake shooting, Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed two people. A jury found him not guilty.
Kenosha is trending Republican. Former President Donald Trump was the first Republican to win since Richard Nixon. That win was 238 votes, and the margin expanded in 2020. In April, voters elected a Republican state lawmaker, Samantha Kerkman, to serve as county executive.