Democrats won’t file appeal against Michels ballot access

By: - June 13, 2022 3:25 pm

Tim Michels speaks at the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s 2022 state convention. (Screenshot | WisEye)

A lawyer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin said on Monday that the party won’t be filing an appeal against the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s decision to allow Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels access to the ballot in the August primary. 

Democrats had challenged Michels’ nominating petitions, arguing that he had failed to properly fill out the forms. State law requires that if a candidate’s voting and mailing address are different, a mailing address must be included. Michels left off the state and zip code in his address on the forms, which Democrats said doesn’t constitute a mailing address because nothing can be delivered without that information. 

On Friday, the WEC voted unanimously to allow Michels onto the ballot. The members of the commission appointed by Democrats said even if technically incorrect, the body should lean toward allowing the nearly 4,000 voters who signed Michels’ forms to have their say. 

On Monday, the attorney who argued the case on behalf of the Democratic party and a Dane County voter, said the WEC decision wouldn’t be appealed to the court system because election clerks need time to get ready for the primary election. 

“After careful consideration, we’ve decided not to seek court review of [WEC] dismissing our complaint against [Michels],” the attorney, Jeff Mandell tweeted. “We’re forgoing appeal not [because] we’re wrong — Michels clearly didn’t follow the law — but [because] an appeal would strain election administration.” 

“Ballots need to go to press by Wednesday or Thursday,” he continued. “To tie them up in court this week would create chaos and impose unneeded stress on municipal clerks, county clerks & other public servants who do phenomenal work running Wisconsin’s elections. It wouldn’t be fair.” 

Michels has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Like all the Republicans vying for a chance to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in this fall’s general election, Michels has been critical of the WEC and regularly complains about how election laws are administered in Wisconsin. 

“Ultimately, [WEC] decided to overlook his errors,” Mandell wrote. “I respectfully disagree [with] that decision. I believe in elections conducted consistent [with] rule of law. And I believe candidates, no matter how rich or powerful, should follow the law. We’re a nation governed by laws. He keeps criticizing how [Wisconsin] elections work and running TV ads pledging that he’ll follow the law as governor. But follow the law as a candidate? Apparently he’s less committed to that.” 

“This fits perfectly [with] Trump’s endorsement,” he added. “Care only for self; blame others; distract, dissemble & disregard any sense of truth, policy, or values. Power is all. [Two] weeks ago I knew almost nothing about [Michels]. Now I know he’s dishonest [and] would be a disaster for [Wisconsin].

After the WEC voted on Friday, Michels said in a statement that the people of Wisconsin had defeated “Madison insiders.” 

“The people of Wisconsin won today,” he said. “But this won’t be the last obstacle Madison insiders throw my way. Let’s be clear, in each step of the process, from the day we turned in our papers, to the staff recommendation earlier this week and now the unanimous vote of the Commission, our signatures were recognized as valid and sufficient, despite all the howling from the usual suspects.” 

The Republican primary for governor is set for August 9.


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.