Under the heading of “Be careful what you wish for,” Donald Trump’s endorsement of Tim Michels for the Republican nomination for governor of Wisconsin may prove to be the kiss of death in the general elections this fall if Michels wins the nomination.
All four Republican candidates for governor curried Trump’s favor. That means they had to buy into the Big Lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him when all factual evidence says he was a big loser.
How can Michels, Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Tim Ramthun run for the highest office in Wisconsin based on a platform of quicksand?
Tim Ramthun, Republican assemblyman of Campbellsport has only that one issue: the election of Democrat Joe Biden should be decertified in Wisconsin. I have asked Ramthun three times in this column to present even a single faulty ballot from his own district. He promised to present evidence to anyone who asked. He has never responded. In other words, he is a windbag.
But he is loving the unearned limelight, the headlines and the minor campaign donations.
I thought that Michels would be smart enough to avoid being super-glued to Trump. Michels has some real chops as a businessman and U. S. army ranger officer. He has a good shot at winning the GOP nomination on his own merits with millions of his own money to spend on political advertising.
To prove he’s a serious politician, he could have raised issues that are pivotal for the state, like what to do about our labor shortage, how to re-fashion our education systems to make every young citizen job-ready for a good career, how to use technology to face the challenges that are damaging the Great Lakes, how to get ready for the next pandemic, how to use the state’s $4 billion surplus, and how to work with the new leadership of the University of Wisconsin to fashion a game plan for our future with declining enrollments, or how to contain runaway health costs that hurt every Wisconsinite.
Instead, he touts his company’s creation of a prototype for the wall on the southern border. We have very little immigration into Wisconsin. While the wall is a national issue, it is not an important Wisconsin issue.
Former Lieutenant Gov. Kleefisch has credentials from her eight years as former Gov. Scott Walker’s sidekick. Their signature work during two terms was the passage of Act 10, which sapped power and funds from the state’s public unions. She didn’t need to establish herself by buying into the Big Lie. Yet she did just that early on.
Her loyalty to Trump earned her no loyalty in return when Trump opted for Michels who looks and sounds a lot like the former president. Michels also lives the high life. He could have come off as a man of the people, as a job creator.
In terms of credentials, Nicholson is an ex-Marine. That’s about it. Thanks, deeply, for his service as a warrior, but he wants to be governor.
Trump’s endorsements at offices in state level elections has been a mixed bag. He’s won some and lost some, but lost spectacularly in Georgia where Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger resisted the delusionary Big Lie.
Trump still has a strong base in the Republican Party, but only has a 37% approval rating with the Wisconsin general public. His star is fading here.
His core supporters are loyal to the degree of being called a cult. To them, he can do no wrong. Not even an attempt to overthrow our democracy by instigating the January 6, 2021 mob assault on our capitol dissuades them.
Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers continues to hold his own with a lukewarm approval rating of about 50%. His major hallmark has been dozens of vetoes against Republicans’ bills that passed both houses of the legislature. As he sits back and holds his powder for the Nov. election, he must be enjoying the divisive tactics of the Republican Party.
Evers can’t get too gleeful because he will be caught up as a Democrat and President Biden’s low approval ratings.
It’s ironic that the Republican divisiveness has now erupted in their own party. Michels and Nicholson are running against the GOP establishment. As the non-anointed, they are cannibalizing their own Wisconsin party.
In the end, if the Wisconsin GOP can’t get its act together on backing a candidate for governor, how can they expect to pull the state together in common cause?