In Wisconsin primary, GOP voters call for decertification of 2020 election

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – When she began her campaign for governor of Wisconsin, former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican, acknowled...

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – When she began her campaign for governor of Wisconsin, former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican, acknowledged that President Biden had been legitimately elected.

She backtracking soon. Finally, she said that the 2020 election had been “rigged” against former President Donald J. Trump. She sued the state election commission.

But she still won’t accept the misconception that the election can somehow be overturned, a fantasy that has taken hold among many Republicans in the state, encouraged by one of her opponents, Tim Ramthun.

And for that, she takes on the grief of voters in the final days before Tuesday’s primary.

At a campaign stop here last week, one voter, Donette Erdmann, pressed Ms Kleefisch for her endorsement of former Vice President Mike Pence, who many of Mr Trump’s most dedicated supporters blame for not blocking the counting of electoral votes on 6 January. , 2021. “I was wondering if you were going to resort to a RINO program or an awesome program,” Ms. Erdmann said, using a right-wing pejorative for disloyal Republicans.

Ms Kleefisch’s surprise response – “don’t make up your mind based on what someone else is doing”, she warned, defending her “brilliant agenda” – was not enough.

“I’ll go with Tim Ramthun,” Ms Erdmann said afterwards.

Ms. Kleefisch’s predicament illustrates how Mr. Trump’s supporters have grown furious over his 2020 election defeat and the mistaken belief that his results can be overturned in central campaign issues in the Republican primary for governor of Wisconsin, a battleground state won by wafer-thin margins. in the last two presidential elections. GOP candidates had a choice of telling voters they were wrong or engaging in the fiction that something can be done to reverse Mr. Trump’s defeat.

Dozens of Republican voters and activists polled across the state last week said they want lawmakers to decertify the state’s election results and reclaim its 10 electoral votes, which legally cannot be done. . Almost all pointed out a July ruling from the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Courtwho ruled that drop boxes used to collect ballots during the pandemic were illegal under state law, as evidence that hundreds of thousands of 2020 votes should be discarded.

“Everyone I spoke to voted for Trump,” said Cyndy Deeg, a food industry worker from Larsen, Wis. “He should be reinstated and resume the job, because he never gave it up.”

There are no mechanism in Wisconsin law or a federal law allowing a state to withdraw electoral votes or void presidential election results two years after the contest, a fact Ms. Kleefisch finds herself explaining to voters, reporters and televised debate audiences. .

His main Wisconsin ally, former Governor Scott Walker, said Republicans wanted to stop discussing Mr Trump’s defeat two years ago.

“Across the country, a lot of people who love what the president has done are getting tired of hearing about 2020 and want to focus on winning 2022 and 2024,” Walker said in a statement. interview.

But even as Ms. Kleefisch campaigns on a program to restrict voting access and eliminate Wisconsin’s bipartisan Elections Commission, two Republican rivals promise to do just that and more.

Tim Michels, a wealthy construction tycoon who has been criticized for send her children to school in New York and Connecticutwhere he owns a $17 million home, was endorsed by Mr. Trump and says that if elected, he will study the legislation decertify 2020 results. Mr. Ramthun is the leading supporter of state decertification, but polls show him trailing Ms. Kleefisch and Mr. Michels, who are in a tight race.

The winner of the primary will face Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat who has vetoed more than a dozen ballot bills passed by the Republican-controlled legislature over the past two years. Because of the large GOP majorities in the gerrymandered legislaturea Republican governor would have wide latitude to change how the state votes and counts votes in the 2024 presidential election.

Mr. Michels, who covered the airwaves in Wisconsin with advertisements reminding voters that he is Mr. Trump’s choice, learned that running as a candidate supported by the former president comes with certain obligations.

Twice in recent weeks he backtracked on statements that deviated from Trump-wing doctrine.

First, Mr. Michels said during a debate that the decertification of the results of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin – which Mr. Trump himself has repeatedly urged the top Republican in the State Assembly to do — would not be a priority in his administration. He quickly corrected himself, saying he was “very, very excited about this election integrity issue” and pledging to consider signing a decertification bill into law if lawmakers pass one.

Then, during town hall debate On Monday evening, Mr. Michels was asked if he would support a presidential bid by Mr. Trump in 2024.

“I’m focused on this election right now,” he said. “I have made no commitments to any candidate in 2024.”

Trump supporters saw the remarks as a betrayal of the former president, and the next day, Mr. Michels corrected himself.

“The day President Trump announces he will run for president in 2024, if he does, I will support him and endorse him,” he told supporters in Kaukauna on Tuesday.

Mr. Michels declined to explain the about-face. “I talked about it last night,” he said after Kaukauna’s stoppage, as his assistants and the supporters physically pushed the journalists away from the candidate.

To complicate matters for both Ms. Kleefisch and Mr. Michels, Mr. Ramthun, a state Assemblyman whose gubernatorial campaign is weak in the polls but held in high esteem by the most dedicated conspiracy theorists in the state. It was Mr. Ramthun, in February, who pioneer of decertification push after Robin Vos, the Speaker of the Assembly, prevented its proposal for a “cyber-forensic audit” of the 2020 election to come and vote.

Mr. Ramthun’s campaign is steeped in Christian nationalismpresenting him as a messianic figure who will lead the state to correct what he presents as the misguided results of the 2020 elections.

“I’m what you’ve been looking for for decades,” he said during Monday’s debate.

Mr. Vos has aggressively tried to restrict access to voting in Wisconsin. As well as passing the bills Mr. Evers vetoed last year, he called for felony charges against five members from the state election commission for tips they issued for voting during the pandemic that he said violated state election law. He also ordered a million dollars 2020 election surveyled by a former state Supreme Court justice, who endorsed debunked conspiracy theories.

But as with Ms Kleefisch, Mr Vos’s refusal to allow a decertification vote left him open to attack – in his case, from a lead challenger, Adam Steen, who has no paid staff and to barely enough money to print and mail his campaign. Literature.

Mr. Steen, who was endorsed by Mr. Trump Tuesday and obtained a privileged speaking slot during a Friday night Trump rally in Waukeshabuilt his campaign around decertifying the election and also said he would seek to make contraception illegal.

During a lunch of cheeseburgers and cheese curdsMr. Steen said he would not have challenged Mr. Vos if Mr. Trump had been re-elected.

“Without the knowledge I have right now, I don’t think I would be racing, because it wouldn’t have been on display,” said Mr Steen, who drives a Lincoln Town Car with a commemorative license plate of the 2017 presidential inauguration which says “TRUMP”. “I don’t think there was that catalyst to see those issues without him losing.”

Mr. Vos declined to be interviewed. After Mr. Trump endorsed Mr. Steen, Mr. Vos issued a statement reiterating that decertification is impossible.

The base of the party is not convinced.

In April, a survey from Marquette University School of Law found that 39% of Republicans in the state supported decertification. Since then, the momentum for decertification has been building, especially after the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on the drop box. The Chairman of the Assembly Elections Committeealong with dozens of county Republican parties across the state, have called for the election to be voided.

Dennis Gasper, the chief financial officer of the Sheboygan County Republican Party, which last month passed a resolution calling on lawmakers to strip the state’s 10 Electoral College votes, said he believes elected officials and Ms Kleefisch were resisting voter decertification calls to save themselves heartache. in the news media.

“You know, the press is very powerful, and if they said what they think, they would be considered a little crazy,” Mr Gasper said.

Ms. Kleefisch tries to navigate a party that not so long ago was considered her hometown royalty.

A former Milwaukee Television reportershe was deputy to Governor Scott Walker when he led Republicans in Wisconsin to revoke the collective bargaining rights of most public sector employees, a political earthquake in state politics it led to weeks of protests and ultimately undermined the power of Democrats here for a generation.

In two interviews last week, she brushed aside ideas she had crossed paths with Mr. Trump or that his endorsement of Mr. Michels would be decisive. She said she still supports the former president and praises his policies, although she would not commit to support him in 2024.

But she acknowledged that the issue that drives Wisconsin Republicans the most in the current post-Trump era is not grounded in reality.

I’m not saying passion is imaginary, I’m not saying distrust is imaginary,” she said after her Sheboygan quit. “I say the idea that you can disavow the Constitution and the laws and do things that are not stated anywhere in the law is a lost cause, and there is no way that is articulated to do that. “

Mr. Michels and Mr. Ramthun, she said, are playing with fire telling voters they will deliver something impossible.

“It’s irresponsible to flatter,” she said. “You have to tell the truth.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: In Wisconsin primary, GOP voters call for decertification of 2020 election
In Wisconsin primary, GOP voters call for decertification of 2020 election
Newsrust - US Top News
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