ICYMI: Rebecca Kleefisch Refuses to Answer Whether She Would Certify Wisconsin’s Election Results or Let Them Be Counted
A new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel slams Rebecca Kleefisch for refusing to say whether she would’ve certified Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election results or whether she believed the vice president could prevent the counting of some votes.
With extremist Timothy Ramthun running on a Trump-backed platform of illegally revoking the 2020 electoral votes, Kleefisch and Kevin Nicholson are feeling the pressure to embrace far-right conspiracy theories.
Despite her reputation as “Wisconsin’s Donald Trump,” Kleefisch is scrambling to win over his base, especially after Trump himself snubbed her.
Last September, she acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election, but just last week, she refused to answer the same question on WTMJ-AM.
This wouldn’t be the first time Kleefisch embraced the Big Lie and other efforts to overturn the will of voters. Earlier this month, Kleefisch told a radio host she wanted to dissolve the Wisconsin Elections Commission so voters would have “one throat to choke” if they challenged an election.
“Rebecca Kleefisch will say whatever it takes to win this nasty primary,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “With Timothy Ramthun joining the race, it’s clear that the Wisconsin GOP primary has become a competition of who can spread more election conspiracies and lies. If any one of these Republicans is elected governor, the firewall established by Gov. Tony Evers’ commitment to democracy will be destroyed.”
Read key excerpts from the article below:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Rebecca Kleefisch won’t say whether she would let Wisconsin’s presidential results count
As she makes her bid for governor on pledges of election integrity, Republican Rebecca Kleefisch won’t offer promises that Wisconsin’s presidential votes will count.
The former lieutenant governor declined in an interview to say whether she would have certified Wisconsin’s results if she had been governor during the 2020 presidential election. She also would not say whether she believed the vice president has the power to prevent the counting of some electoral votes, as former President Donald Trump has maintained.
Her top primary opponent, management consultant Kevin Nicholson, took a different stance.
He said if he had been governor at the time, he would have ensured before the election that voting practices were changed so that no one would question the results. That would have allowed him to certify the 2020 results with confidence, he said.
Nicholson said he disagreed with Trump on counting electoral votes. Vice President Mike Pence had no choice but to count the Electoral College results that were sent to Congress, he said.
Joe Biden beat Trump by nearly 21,000 votes in Wisconsin. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers certified those results, which were confirmed by recounts and court rulings.
State Rep. Timothy Ramthun of Campbellsport this month entered the Republican primary for governor with a pledge to revoke the 2020 electoral votes — a move that is legally impossible. He declined to comment on the stances of the others.
“I don’t pay attention to my primary opponents. I’m working on putting my campaign together because I got in late,” he said.
Kleefisch would not say what she would have done if she had been in Evers’ position immediately after the 2020 election.
“I think that hypotheticals are really tough to discuss in the context that you’re asking because I think there’s a lot that we just have discovered over the last several months,” Kleefisch said in an interview.
Her unwillingness to say what she would do marks a shift. In September 2021, she acknowledged on WISN-TV that Biden had won the election. Last week, she declined to directly answer that question during an appearance on WTMJ-AM.
Kleefisch wouldn’t say whether she thought Trump or Pence was right.
“I wasn’t in the conversation between Trump or Pence and I don’t think anyone in this Wisconsin gubernatorial election can say that they know what happened between those two men,” she said.
She did not address whether she would have concerns if a vice president in the future refused to count Wisconsin’s electoral votes.
“OK, that’s an inventive hypothetical,” she said, even though that is what Trump urged Pence to do.
Over the years, Kleefisch has praised both Trump and Pence. In October, she met with Pence and tweeted a photo of the two of them chatting while he was in Wisconsin.
The Electoral College met in December 2020. Republicans in Wisconsin and other swing states Trump lost gathered on the same day and signed paperwork purporting to be the true presidential electors. They sent the material to Congress and the National Archives.
The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into the matter and the Wisconsin Elections Commission is weighing a complaint that alleges the Republicans engaged in fraud.
Nicholson said he considered the Republican meeting routine and Kleefisch expressed no qualms about it.
“I think that those electors were told that by lawyers, this is a check-the-box exercise and something they should do at a moment where there was ongoing legal challenges and so they did it and they checked the box,” Nicholson said.
Kleefisch said she “wasn’t a participant in this at all whatsoever” and offered no criticism of the effort.
Both Kleefisch and Nicholson have called for overhauling voting laws and dissolving the state Elections Commission. Nicholson wants to give the commission’s duties to the secretary of state. Kleefisch said she wants to hand them over to either the secretary of state or the Legislature.
Democrat Doug LaFollette has been secretary of state since 1983. Nicholson said he wouldn’t have a problem with a Democrat overseeing elections because of how he would structure voting laws.
“I think the law is already clear, but I’m going to make the law so clear that … whatever party happens to hold that position, the public, the people of Wisconsin, should have trust that they’re going to follow the law,” he said. “Secretaries of state are accountable to voters. As long as the laws are in the book, they are required to follow them.”
Kleefisch said she is still listening to voters and would decide later whether she wanted to give the duties to the secretary of state or lawmakers. Republicans hold large majorities in the Legislature.
“I’m not looking at this from a political view at all,” she said. “I’m looking at this from an election integrity view and accountability view.”
Kleefisch, Nicholson and Ramthun will face one another in an Aug. 9 primary. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson and Madison businessman Eric Hovde are also considering getting in the Republican primary.
The winner will go on to challenge Evers in November.
The election calendar for this election cycle is already set, but both Kleefisch and Nicholson said it should be changed for future races. They both would like to have primaries conducted in the spring, which would shorten the primary race and lengthen the general election campaign.