By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch said five months ago that President Joe Biden had won Wisconsin, but on Thursday she dodged the question pending the results of ongoing investigations. by the GOP on the 2020 election.
Kleefisch’s shift in stance on Biden’s victory comes as other Republican candidates in the gubernatorial race have questioned the victory and one, State Rep. Timothy Ramthun, has tried unsuccessfully to award the state electoral college votes to Donald Trump.
Biden won Wisconsin with just under 21,000 votes, a result that withstood recounts, lawsuits, an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Office and scrutiny by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. An Associated Press study of battleground states found far too few confirmed cases of fraud to sway the election of Trump, whose own attorney general disputed allegations of fraud.
But some Republicans, pushed by Trump, questioned the result in Wisconsin and backed an ongoing investigation by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Ramthun, along with Assembly Elections Committee Chairman Rep. Janel Brandtjen, has also embraced conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin.
Ramthun unsuccessfully tried to overturn the allocation of the 10 Wisconsin Electoral College votes to Biden, a move that nonpartisan lawyers for the Legislative Assembly say is not legal. Republican Assembly leaders also blocked Ramthun’s attempts.
Kleefisch said in a September 2021 interview on WISN-TV’s “UpFront” that she was asked blankly if she thought Biden had won Wisconsin.
“Me,” she said.
On Thursday, Kleefisch was asked on WTMJ-AM if she thinks Trump won Wisconsin. This time, she did not provide a straight answer.
“I think right now we have two investigations going on to make this decision,” Kleefisch said. “One under Michael Gableman, one under Janel Brandtjen, I’m watching live in real time with you what these audits come up with.”
Kleefisch’s campaign spokesman Alec Zimmerman did not immediately return a message seeking comment on his shift.
Nicholson also appeared on WTMJ on Thursday and was asked if Trump won Wisconsin. And like Kleefisch, he didn’t give a straight answer.
“I think the 2020 election was a mess,” Nicholson said. “It was a stinky, smelly mess. … So out of that mess and the harvesting of the ballots and all that other stuff that happened, Joe Biden was declared the winner. And that’s it. »
The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will advance to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
“Rebecca Kleefisch continues to divide Wisconsinans, even if it means reversing her stance to embrace radical theories now that she faces a tough primary,” Evers campaign spokesman Sam Roecker said. “We know Wisconsin’s election was fair, safe and accurate, but politicians like Rebecca Kleefisch will say whatever it takes to appeal to the extremes of their party.”