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On May 12, 2022, Michels released a blueprint calling for a plan to “dramatically reform WEC.”
On May 26, 2022, Michels joined other Republicans in calling for the abolition of the WEC.
An endorsement from former President Donald Trump has been a game-changer in some Republican primary contests – and multiple candidates for governor in Wisconsin angled for Trump’s blessing.
In the end, it went to business owner Tim Michels, who was endorsed by Trump on June 2, 2022. Michels was a latecomer to the race, not joining until late April, and his nomination papers are being challenged by a Madison voter who, with support from state Democrats, took the matter to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.
There’s some irony to that.
When he entered the race, Michels supported reforming 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 turned against the commission because of policies approved during the 2020 presidential election – which, of course, Trump falsely claims he won in Wisconsin and elsewhere.
Has Michels flip-flopped on whether to disband the elections commission?
Let’s turn to our Flip-O-Meter.
A reminder here: We use our Flip-O-Meter to evaluate whether a politician has been consistent over time. The Flip-O-Meter does not examine if it is good policy or politics to make any change.
A note here: The Wisconsin Elections Commission on June 10, 2022, rejected the bid by Democrats to keep Michels off the ballot.
In a May 12, 2022 news release titled "Michels First Blueprint: Restore Election Integrity On Day One," Michels outlined his plan to reform the WEC.
"In my business, we want to take a look at a problem and see what’s going on," Michels said in the news release. "My plan is a fresh start, and allows us to bring in or bring back people who are ready to get to work to fix our elections, not make the problem worse."
Among the provisions of Michels’ blueprint was a plan to "dramatically reform WEC," including:
Require all current commissioners and senior staff be terminated, and new appointments be made within 30 days.
Require all staff to then reapply to work for the newly constituted Board.
Repeal of all previous election guidance and freezing the issuance of new guidance pending full reorganization.
Require the executive director to face confirmation from the State Senate.
Prohibit re-hiring of any staff members that participated in the issuance of any formal guidance that failed to comply with existing law, as has been determined by the Legislative Audit Bureau.
Clearly, at that time, Michels was calling for keeping the commission and implementing reform measures, not calling for its elimination.
Two weeks later, Michels reversed his stance and joined other Republicans in calling for the abolition of the WEC. Michels’ position shift came days after he and other candidates for governor addressed delegates at a state Republican convention who called for discarding the agency.
"While this evolution may be uncommon in politics, I'm not a politician," he said in a statement reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I've come to the conclusion the WEC is not salvageable. To have non-elected officials overseeing the administration of elections has proven to be fundamentally flawed."
The Trump endorsement came just days after that.
On May 12, 2022, Michels released a blueprint calling for a plan to "dramatically reform" the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Two weeks later, after the state GOP convention and days before a Trump endorsement, he reversed course and joined other Republicans in calling for its abolition.
We consider this a complete change in position and rate it a Full Flop.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Wisconsin Elections Commission rejects Democrats' effort to keep Republican Tim Michels off the ballot for governor," June 10, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Construction executive Tim Michels running for Wisconsin governor, bringing the Republican field to 4," April 22, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Donald Trump endorses Tim Michels for Wisconsin governor, inserting himself into competitive GOP primary," June 2, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "GOP governor candidate Tim Michels reverses course and now says he wants to eliminate the Wisconsin Elections Commission," May 26, 2022
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Wisconsin Republicans refuse to endorse any of the party's 4 candidates for governor," May 21, 2022
WisPolitics.com "Michels campaign: Calls for election integrity to be restored," May 12, 2022
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