Wisconsin Officials Reject Democratic Effort to Block Trump’s Governor Pick

On Friday, Wisconsin election officials voted unanimously to keep Republican Tim Michels on the ballot for governor, despite a Democratic effort to invalidate his nomination papers.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission, a bipartisan panel, which was composed of both Democrats and Republicans, said on Friday that the complaint lodged by Democrats did not warrant removing Michels from the ballot. Michels, a wealthy construction company co-owner, was endorsed by former President Donald Trump earlier this month.

The Democratic challenge to Michels’ candidacy, which was launched only two days after Trump’s endorsement, alleged that Michels had used an incorrect address on many of the nomination papers used to collect signatures.

While Michels resides in the small Village of Chenequa, the U.S. Postal Service lists Hartland, a larger municipality less than five miles from Chenequa, as his mailing address. On some of his nomination papers, Michels had put Chenequa as his mailing address — a discrepancy that Democrats argued should have invalidated most of the signatures collected by his campaign.

Wisconsin state law requires that a gubernatorial candidate collect at least 2,000 signatures to be included on the primary and general ballots. By the time the complaint against Michels was filed, staff at the Wisconsin Elections Commission had already validated 3,861 of the 4,000 signatures submitted by Michels. Democrats challenged all but 345 of those signatures.

In their meeting Friday, all six members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission voted to rule against the Democratic complaint.

“There’s no reason to keep him off,” said Democratic Commissioner Mark Thomsen. “I think people would get very, very upset. I think we would get reversed immediately.”

In a statement after the decision, Michels decried the “frivolous process” Democrats had forced him through while promising that his campaign was only growing stronger. “We drive forward with all hands on deck as we campaign across the state and build an incredible organization that is going to defeat Tony Evers and get Wisconsin back on the right track,” he said.

Michels is vying for the Republican nomination against three other candidates: former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Rep. Tim Ramthun and business consultant Kevin Nicholson. The winner of the Aug. 9 primary will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the Nov. general election.