State realtors group decides not to endorse gubernatorial race


The Capitol report, produced by — a Madison-based nonpartisan news service specializing in government and political coverage — provides weekly analysis of issues being debated in Wisconsin state government. It is underwritten by the WNA and produced exclusively for its members. president Jeff Mayers is a former associate editor and reporter for the Associated Press and a former political writer for the Wisconsin State Journal.

The Wisconsin Realtors Association decided not to endorse the governor’s race this year, saying Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and GOP challenger Tim Michels are good on the group’s issues.

WRA President and CEO Mike Theo told that the group researched both candidates and then interviewed them before deciding against an endorsement.

“We’ve always had a habit of supporting people who have supported our issues that are important to our members, our owners and our owners,” Theo said in early September.

The group’s decision is a blow to Michels, a construction executive. The WRA endorsed Republican Scott Walker in his gubernatorial bids in 2010, 2014 and 2018, as well as in the 2012 recall which he defeated.

Insiders watched to see how GOP-leaning industry groups would approach the race and whether they would abstain rather than risk endorsing the challenger only to see Evers win re-election.

Several of those groups said in early September they were still considering endorsement, including the Wisconsin Farm Bureau through its PAC Agriculture Volunteers.

The same goes for several groups that endorsed Rebecca Kleefisch before the GOP primary, including the Wisconsin Builders Association and the Association of Builders and Contractors.

Wisconsin Grocers Association President and CEO Brandon Scholz said the group is still waiting to meet with Michels to assess its position on its issues after supporting Kleefisch in the primary. Scholz noted that Michels, who officially launched her campaign in late April, didn’t have much on her campaign website that indicated her stance on issues affecting the retail sector.

After officially endorsing Kleefisch in January before Michels entered the race, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is now launching an ad campaign praising Michels.

The day after the Aug. 9 GOP primary, the group released a statement in which Chairman and CEO Kurt Bauer praised Michels and called for new leadership in Wisconsin.

The group told today that it is launching a six-figure advertising campaign to run on digital and streaming services urging viewers to thank Michels for his support of lower taxes, more neighborhoods safe and to better schools. It comes after the band launched a series of ads later in the winter targeting Evers, who has been at odds with the band on numerous issues during his tenure.

Although the group does not generally officially endorse candidates, it does run long-running advertisements praising Republicans and criticizing Democrats.

“The Evers/Biden agenda is hurting families in Wisconsin. Their tax and spending policies are making it worse,” the narrator says in the new WMC ad, calling Michels a job creator with a plan to save the job.

For real estate agents, Evers signed several priorities during this last legislative session.

This includes legislation creating a regulatory framework for homeowners associations and legislation reversing a 2018 state Supreme Court decision to ensure that owners of land that adjoins a
navigable body of water, such as a flow, has the right to install a jetty there.

Evers has also vetoed several WRA-backed bills, such as one that requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to create a program to declare certain residential development sites “shovel-ready” and require local governments and state agencies to expedite the permitting process for such projects. . Among other things, Evers wrote in his veto message that he opposed creating a program under WEDC without providing additional funding to pay for it.

Theo said the estate agents have a sub-committee that makes recommendations to the group’s board on endorsements. In the gubernatorial race, the group had to weigh a candidate with a nearly four-year record as governor and another with no public policy background on the group’s issues.

“In this case, we had candidates who were both supportive of our issues,” Theo said.

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The Capitol Report is compiled by the editorial staff of, a Madison-based nonpartisan news service specializing in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.


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