• Tue. Nov 29th, 2022

GOP gubernatorial candidate Michels changes course on Wisconsin Elections Commission

ByChad J. Johnson

Jun 8, 2022

Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement has been a game-changer in some Republican primary contests — and several Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates have bowed for Trump’s blessing.

Ultimately, it went to company owner Tim Michels, who was endorsed by Trump on June 2, 2022. Michels was a latecomer in the race, not joining until late April, and his paperwork candidacy are being challenged by a Madison voter who, with the support of state Democrats, took the case to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

There is a certain irony in this.

When he entered the race, Michels supported reform of the commission. Now he wants to abolish it.

Republican lawmakers voted to create the commission in 2015 because they believed its predecessor, the Government Accountability Board, was biased against them. Now, Republicans have largely backfired on the commission over policies approved in the 2020 presidential election — which, of course, Trump falsely claims to have won in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

Did Michels flip-flop on whether to disband the electoral commission?

Let’s move on to our Flip-O-Meter.

A reminder here: we use our Flip-O-Meter to assess whether a politician has been consistent over time. The Flip-O-Meter does not examine whether it is good policy or policy to make a change.

Michels’ position on the WEC on May 12

In a May 12, 2022 press release titled “Michels First Blueprint: Restore Election Integrity On Day One,” Michels outlined his plan to reform the WEC.

“At my company, we want to look at a problem and see what happens,” Michels said in the press release. “My plan is a fresh start and allows us to bring in or bring back people willing to work to fix our elections, not make the problem worse.”

Among the provisions of Michels’ plan was a plan for “radical reform of the WEC”, including:

  • Require that all current commissioners and senior staff be terminated and new appointments be made within 30 days.

  • Require that all staff then reapply to work for the newly constituted council.

  • Repeal of all previous electoral guidelines and freeze on the publication of new guidelines pending a complete revamp.

  • Require the executive director to face state senate confirmation.

  • Prohibit the rehiring of any staff member who participated in the issuance of any formal directive inconsistent with applicable law, as determined by the Office of Legislative Audit.

Clearly, at this time, Michels was calling for the commission to be maintained and for the implementation of reform measures, not for its abolition.

Michels’ position on the WEC on May 26

Two weeks later, Michels reversed his position and joined other Republicans in calling for the WEC to be abolished. Michels’ shift in position came days after he and other gubernatorial candidates addressed delegates at a Republican state convention who called for the agency to be scrapped.

“While this development may be rare in politics, I am not a politician,” he said in a statement reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I have come to the conclusion that the WEC is not salvageable. Having unelected officials to oversee election administration has proven to be fundamentally flawed.”

Trump’s endorsement came just days after that.

Our decision

On May 12, 2022, Michels released a plan calling for a “radical reform” plan for the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Two weeks later, after the state’s GOP convention and days before Trump’s endorsement, he backtracked and joined other Republicans in calling for it to be abolished.

We consider this a complete change of position and call it a Full Flop.