Local Republicans unhappy with Speaker Vos, demand efforts to unite party ahead of primaries

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Frustration is growing among members of the Republican party who are demanding new leadership at the Capitol and have concerns the party won't be able to unite heading into the 2022 primary elections.

Over a dozen counties have passed resolutions demanding Wisconsin's top Republican, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, resign over how he's handling concerns and issues raised over the 2020 election.

Some Republican lawmakers are going to great lengths to try and overturn the 2020 election, which is a legally impossible task.

This week, State Representative Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) and Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport) spoke to hundreds at the state Capitol rallying support for their efforts to revoke Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes.

"You've been told a lot of times there's nothing to see, everything is fine, and it was the most perfect election, right? Well, you are not crazy," Brandtjen told the crowd on Tuesday.

Numerous reviews, court rulings and recounts have confirmed Joe Biden won and have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Republican leaders have shut down efforts to try and decertify the election, which resulted in members of their own party turning on them.

Vos is the main target who's taking the heat from local Republicans after Assembly leaders rejected Rep. Ramthun's proposal to revoke the state's 10 electoral votes for President Joe Biden.

The Rochester Republican has downplayed the frustration aimed at him, saying he's not the one to blame and instead encouraged people to turn their anger towards Democrats.

"I think it's simply misdirected anger," Vos said. "In each political party there are people who are unhappy with the direction because they are frustrated with the state of our country. I too am frustrated."

Chris O'Brien, a member of the Jefferson County Republican Party, said it's clear Vos is not listening to their concerns.

"I think it's Speaker Vos that's starting to cause this division and maybe people around him should tell him to stop doing this, and that's what this resolution is doing," O'Brien said. "Perhaps someone else can step in and unify the party."

O'Brien and several members of the Republican Party of Jefferson County recently passed a resolution "demanding a vote of no confidence" and for a "new Speaker to be elected."

Uniting Republicans ahead of November's election is also a concern for O'Brien, who believes the party is divided more than ever because of Vos' leadership.

"Unfortunately, I think it's the leadership of the Republican Party in the Speaker's Office that is creating the disunity," he said. "We're Republicans telling other Republicans we need to be united."

When asked, Speaker Vos laughed at the notion the party is in disarray.

"Uniting the party? I think we are united around [the fact] that Tony Evers needs to be the one-termer," Vos said. "The only ones who don't seem to remember that are the county parties that are having resolutions focused on people in their own party."

Jefferson, Sheboygan, Wood, Langlade, Florence and Iowa counties were among some of the first to pass resolutions condemning Vos.

Republican candidate for governor Kevin Nicholson has also been a strong critic of Vos and his opponent, former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch.

He's called them out for being the GOP "machine" and the reason behind losing the last 11 out of 12 statewide races.

The upcoming primaries will be a test to see whether former President Donald Trump's false claims about the election will energize the Republican base in Wisconsin.

Historically, the party who controls Congress and the White House heading into the midterms usually underperforms and loses seats. This year was poised to be good for Republicans, with Biden's approval rating falling and Democrats unable to pass their agenda.

However, it remains to be seen the impact these factors will have in the battleground state.

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