By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Democrat in as many days have dropped out of the race for governor, with state Rep. Dana Wachs announcing on Friday that he was putting an end to his campaign and endorsing the front-runner, Tony Evers, on his way out.
Wachs, from Eau Claire, ended his candidacy a day after the Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik dropped out. The decision came after a Marquette University Law School poll showed Evers with a double-digit lead in the now-shrinking Democratic field.
The other remaining eight Democratic candidates rushed to assure their supporters Friday that they weren’t going anywhere — at least for now.
The primary is Aug. 14, and the winner will advance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Minutes before Wachs’ announcement, Walker focused his attention on Evers in a series of tweets about education. Evers is the state superintendent, a statewide position he’s been elected to three times since 2009.
Evers is the only statewide elected official in the Democratic field, something that sets him apart from the others. His strong showing in the Marquette poll, coupled with Wachs’ and Gronik’s decisions to drop out, further solidified his standing as the front-runner.
Evers’ campaign spokeswoman, Maggie Gau, said “we’ve seen a surge in donors and statewide support” following the release of the poll and reduction in the number of Democrats running for governor.
“Now is the time for unity,” Wachs said in a statement. “Now is the time to fight for Wisconsin’s future. That is why I’m proud to endorse Tony Evers for governor.”
Wachs said Republicans were eager to see Democrats “tear each other apart in a nine-way primary. I will not give them that satisfaction.”
Evers, in thanking Wachs for his support, noted that Wachs had been critical in his campaign of the $10 billion Foxconn Technology Group project that Walker backed and could put taxpayers on the hook for $4.5 billion in incentives.
Walker and President Donald Trump plan to hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project, which could employ up to 13,000 people, on Thursday in Mount Pleasant.
Alec Zimmeran, spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party, said it didn’t matter who remained in the race to face Walker.
“No matter who drops out or stays in, Democrat candidates for governor remain locked in a dangerous race to the left that’s littered with failed policies and flawed records,” he said.
The other Democrats still in the race are Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma; former state Rep. Kelda Roys, of Madison; the state firefighter-union leader Mahlon Mitchell; the political activist Mike McCabe; and the corporate lawyer Josh Pade.