Evers says election probe won't stop until 'Trump is 6 feet under,' Kleefisch, Michels fire back
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Governor Tony Evers took shots at his Republican primary opponents for their views on abortion and efforts to investigate the 2020 election, telling supporters at a campaign stop it won't stop "until Trump is six feet under."
Evers targeted the top two Republican candidates running to unseat him, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and construction businessman Tim Michels during a campaign event in Madison.
He issued a warning to supporters about the future of elections and what could happen if Wisconsin elects a Republican governor.
"We will see elections change to the point where the Legislature makes the final decisions, and that should scare the living crap out of everybody," Evers said Wednesday.
It comes a day after Donald Trump's preferred candidate Tim Michels didn't rule out decertifying the 2020 election, a move Kleefisch and GOP leaders have said there's no pathway to do so. On Tuesday, State Rep. Tim Ramthun also renewed calls to overturn Wisconsin's election results, claiming absentee ballots cast via drop boxes are invalid after the state Supreme Court decision Friday that ruled drop boxes are illegal.
"I believe they will continue to do this until Donald Trump is six feet under," Evers said when asked about his opponents' views and Assembly Republicans keeping former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman's election probe alive nearly two years after the 2020 presidential election.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has issued extensions to Gableman's taxpayer-funded investigation, arguing lawsuits seeking records related to the probe have prolonged his work.
Michels, Kleefisch and State Rep. Tim Ramthun have made election integrity a centerpiece of their campaigns and share concerns over how the 2020 election was administered despite court rulings and recounts confirming Biden's victory over Trump by about 21,000 votes.
“Tony Evers’ flippant attitude toward election integrity is exactly why so many voters have so many doubts," Kleefisch said in a statement. "When I’m governor, I’ll restore faith in Wisconsin’s elections by passing commonsense election integrity measures that will make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.”
Chris Walker, a spokesman for Michels said, "Tony Evers talking about election integrity is like the Detroit Lions talking about winning Super Bowls."
Weeks after filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn Wisconsin's 1849 abortion ban, Evers said maintaining abortion access is a top concern on a majority of voters' minds.
A recent nationwide poll shows non-white and working-class Democrats are more concerned about the economy, while white college graduates are more focused on abortion and gun restriction, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey.
Republicans are talking more frequently about the economy and inflation compared to Democratic candidates, issues they believe will be a major motivating factor at the polls. Evers didn't disagree, but said Kleefisch and Michels are making a mistake by supporting anti-abortion policies.
"They don't know how to get around this and they will suffer at the polls with their work being against the women of the state of Wisconsin," Evers said.
Kleefisch bashed Evers ahead of his event calling him anti-baby for not enforcing the state's 173-year-old abortion ban.
“Tony Evers is pushing his radical anti-feminist, anti-baby agenda by not enforcing Wisconsin’s laws on the books," Kleefisch said.
Fifty-eight percent of Wisconsin voters surveyed believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the latest poll by Marquette University Law School. Meanwhile 35% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.