In November of 2020, Biden won Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes, withstanding recounts in the state’s two largest counties, multiple lawsuits, a nonpartisan audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Even with an investigation by a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice hired by the Republican Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos, evidence that would have warranted overturning the election results did not turn up. Despite legislative leaders and attorneys from both sides of the aisle dismissing further attempts to overturn the election as impossible and unconstitutional, that’s not stopping Republican candidate, Tim Michels, from trying to achieve just that.
Tim Michels, co-owner of the state’s largest construction company, Michels Corp, refuses to rule out any attempts to decertify President Joe Biden’s 2020 win in the battleground state. Having received an endorsement from Donald Trump, Michels has been one of the staunch supporters of decertification, stating that he would “need to see the details” when asked if he would sign a bill to decertify the election results. Michels’ refusal to rule out the idea came days after Trump renewed his call for decertification following a 4-3 ruling by the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Supreme Court that absentee ballot drop boxes are illegal.
Republican state Rep. Tim Ramthun, who is also running for governor, has argued that the court’s ruling invalidates the 2020 results, when COVID-19 vaccines weren’t yet available and absentee drop boxes were in wide use. Ramthun is only calling for the presidential race to be decertified but not his legislative race nor anyone else’s from 2020 or earlier. Despite absentee drop boxes being used in the 2016 presidential race, he doesn’t call for the decertification of the presidential race won by Trump.
Polls are showing that Michels is in a tight Republican primary race against former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, with Ramthun a distant third. The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will advance to face Democratic Governor Tony Evers in the general race that has become a top priority for both parties nationally. Along with her two opponents within the primary, Kleefisch has said she believes the 2020 election was “rigged,” but she has stopped short of calling for decertification, saying there is “no clear path” to overturning the results. Ramthun is the loudest advocate for decertification, a cause he took up after reintroducing a legislative resolution to overturn the results.
All three of the Republican candidates support doing away with the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, which oversees election administration in the state. They also support banning private grant money for running elections, like what more than 200 Wisconsin communities received in 2020 from a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, as well as making it more difficult to vote absentee.
Governor Evers has repeatedly vetoed Republican-authored bills that would make it more difficult to vote absentee in the presidential swing state, but has warned repeatedly that if a Republican is elected governor, that person would give the Wisconsin State Legislature the power to certify or decertify elections as they please.