Below, we compile quotes from campaigns’ ads, websites, social media posts, and statements reported in the media that illustrate endorsement or opposition to election denial — claims that the process or result of the last presidential election was illegitimate. Each of the candidates is running for an office that will play a role in administering future elections in Wisconsin. Information about the financing of these campaigns and those in other battleground states can be found here.
Tony Evers (won primary)
Gov. Tony Evers’s (D) reelection campaign sent an email to supporters with the subject: “They’ve openly tried to overturn 2020 – we can’t let them do it again in 2024.” The email claims that one of Evers’s opponents, State Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R), is “trying to take back Wisconsin’s electoral votes for Joe Biden.” Evers has defended the 2020 election as “safe & secure.” A campaign email claims that “our democracy is in danger,” saying that Evers’s opponents are “amplifying Trump’s big lie” and that the advisers of a rival candidate “have been implicated in a plot to send fake electors to steal Wisconsin in 2020.” Another email accuses his opponents of “lies about the election and unpatriotic attacks on our democracy,” concluding that “democracy itself is on the ballot.”
Rebecca Kleefisch (lost primary)
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) said the 2020 vote in Wisconsin was “rigged.” When asked in a February radio interview whether Biden won the election, Kleefisch said, “I think the better question is, did he win the state of Wisconsin fairly? And I think that answer is going to wind up being no.” In a campaign TV ad, she argues, “the liberal left is still trying to rig elections and cancel out your vote” and promises to “abolish the liberal state elections commission.” Kleefisch supported audits into the 2020 election, citing voter fraud and donations to fund election administration originating from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charity. She tweeted about her plan to create a state election integrity agency to “stop fraud,” saying “Confidence in our elections must be restored.”
Tim Michels (won primary)
Construction executive Tim Michels (R) said the election was “maybe” stolen, that there was “a lot of bad stuff” and an unknown number of “illegal ballots.” Michels refuses to “say whether he would certify the next presidential election” and refuses “to say whether Wisconsin’s 2020 election was properly called.” In July 2022, he said if elected, he is not ruling out signing legislation to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Michels promises as governor to “fix the ‘big problems that we had in 2020,’ citing the use of ballot drop boxes and private grant funding to administer elections.” Michels also argued: “No one knows what the extent of the election fraud was and that’s the problem.”
Timothy Ramthun (lost primary)
The campaign website of state Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R) features his proposed resolution that, among other things, “reclaims Wisconsin’s 10 fraudulent electoral ballots cast for Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris.” The alleged factual support for this includes “manipulations” by the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Tech and Civic Life, the “statistical impossibility” of the vote results, and “deletion of log file data” from voting machines. On his campaign page, Ramthun posted a video he said “vindicated” his work to change the election result: a Tucker Carlson segment featuring claims of “massive election bribery” and “elder abuse, all to wring out votes” from residents of senior enters.
Jonathan Wichmann (withdrew to run for lieutenant governor)
Facebook ads from the gubernatorial campaign of business owner Jonathan Wichmann (R) claimed there was “corruption surrounding state elections” and supported the “effort to decertify the 2020 election.” On his podcast, Wichmann called for a “forensic audit,” saying he believed that “there absolutely was” election fraud.
In Wisconsin, the secretary of state does not administer elections; the Wisconsin Elections Commission does. That agency, like elections administrators in many states, has been attacked over the 2020 elections. There has been a push, including by several declared candidates for secretary of state or governor, to give the secretary of state greater power over elections.
Doug La Follette (won primary)
In his campaign announcement, Secretary of State Doug La Follette (D), a 10-term incumbent, said other candidates “have proposed stealing power over elections and concentrating them in the office in the hopes that they can use it to tilt the results of the next presidential election.” In April 2022, La Follette argued that granting the secretary of state the power to certify elections “was a risky proposition” and said that a future governor and secretary of state “could throw out the election and send their own people to Washington.” He also said that Republican secretaries of state want to “fiddle with the elections.”
Jay Schroeder (lost primary)
Jay Schroeder (R), a former town supervisor of Menasha, Wisconsin, called for “the electors of Wisconsin for the 2020 Presidential election to be rescinded” in a press release that described certain voter registration statistics as a “RED FLAG for phantom voters,” a term election deniers use for allegations that identities of dead people are used to cast votes. In May 2022, Schroeder posted on Facebook about his belief that the 2020 election was “rigged” and included list of unsubstantiated numbers about alleged voter fraud in Wisconsin. His campaign announcement called for the secretary of state to oversee elections, saying: “The days of rigging elections for fraud are over.” In June, Schroeder claimed: “The secretary of state has to sign a sheet of paper for the election,” and said, “I wouldn’t have signed it. Period. That means [the state’s Electoral College votes] wouldn’t have been awarded.”
Justin Schmidtka (lost primary)
On his campaign Facebook page, Justin Schmidtka (R) shared calls to “decertify” the 2020 election results and “reclaim” Wisconsin’s electoral college votes. He also shared a statement from Trump claiming “cheating in the 2020 election.” He has called for the “dismantling” of the current election administration agency, the Wisconsin Elections Commission. On his campaign Facebook page, Schmidtka reposted a post about eliminating alleged voter fraud and promoting “2000 Mules,” a movie claiming large numbers of people put false ballots in drop boxes and he added: “This is what I have been fighting for from the very beginning!”