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Former U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels speaks during a rally on August 5, 2022 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels speaks during a rally on August 5, 2022 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wis. Gov. Candidate Says GOP 'Will Never Lose Another Election' If He Wins

"Their goal is one-party rule, and they are not bothering to even dogwhistle it," said one journalist.

Kenny Stancil

Alluding to his plans to alter how elections are conducted in ways that would stifle the popular will, Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels said this week that if he is elected, the state's residents would live under permanent GOP control.

"Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I'm elected governor," Michels—a construction executive and advocate of former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen—told supporters Monday at a campaign rally.

Sharing an audio clip of Michels' remarks, American Bridge 21st Century tweeted: "Democracy is on the line in Wisconsin. Michels must be stopped."

Along similar lines, journalist David Roberts warned: "Their goal is one-party rule, and they are not bothering to even dogwhistle it. Every U.S. voter should be made familiar with this quote."

Michels is seeking to defeat incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who during his four years in office vetoed or vocally opposed multiple Republican-authored bills that would have restricted ballot access or given the GOP-dominated state Legislature complete control over federal elections in a key swing state that Trump narrowly won in 2016 and narrowly lost in 2020.

As The Washington Post reported Tuesday:

Michels has promised to sign similar legislation and has said he would restructure the state's bipartisan elections commission. He has never spelled out what specific changes he would make to the commission, which is run by three Democrats and three Republicans.

Michels, who won his August primary with Trump's endorsement, has left open the possibility that he would try to decertify the 2020 election in Wisconsin, which legal scholars say is impossible. He has declined to say whether he would certify the results of the 2024 election.

The Wisconsin gubernatorial race remains extremely close. On Wednesday, the polling website gave Michels a 1.4 percentage point lead. The Cook Report, a non-partisan outlet, deemed Wisconsin a toss-up.

In response to his opponent's Monday remarks, Evers tweeted: "Tim Michels is a danger to our democracy. When you head to the polls on Election Day, remember that we're fighting to protect our democracy, voting rights, and free, fair, and secure elections."

According to Michels campaign spokesperson Brian Fraley, the candidate's statement was meant to convey that he would enact policies that would ensure the future success of Republicans.

"When Wisconsin gets back on the right track, with lower taxes, better schools, uniform election laws, and safer communities thanks to the Michels administration, voters will reward the Republicans at the ballot box," Fraley told the Post.

However, as States United Action showed in a recent report, Wisconsin is among the 33 states in which Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 240 bills this year to obstruct the fair administration of elections by:

  • usurping control over election results;
  • requiring partisan or unprofessional election "audits" or reviews;
  • seizing power over election responsibilities;
  • creating unworkable burdens in election administration; or
  • imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.

Notably, Wisconsin is one of just three states—the others being Arizona and Pennsylvania—in which such legislation has been introduced across all five domains since 2021. In the Badger State alone, GOP lawmakers have unveiled a whopping 38 bills over the past two years that would allow them to subvert election results or criminalize election officials.

Nationwide, more than 55 election interference bills have been enacted or adopted since Trump launched his deadly January 6, 2021 coup attempt following his loss to President Joe Biden, including two adopted in Wisconsin this year.

Wisconsin is also among the GOP-controlled states that have collectively introduced hundreds of voter suppression bills over the past two years and redrawn congressional and state legislative maps in ways that disenfranchise Democratic-leaning communities of color and give Republicans outsized representation, which could help them secure minority rule for years to come.

In its current term, the right-wing-dominated U.S. Supreme Court is considering two cases—Merrill v. Milligan and Moore v. Harper—that threaten, respectively, to exacerbate gerrymandering and grant state lawmakers virtually unchecked power to oversee and potentially skew federal elections, through the so-called independent state legislature theory.

Pro-democracy advocates have implored Senate Democrats to repeal the 60-vote filibuster rule and pass federal legislation to safeguard voting rights over objections from the GOP minority.

But a handful of corporate-backed members of the majority party, including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), have refused, allowing the right's multi-pronged assault on the franchise to continue unabated.

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