'Throws a monkey wrench into the GOP primary': Election conspiracy theorist shakes up governor's race

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- An election conspiracy theorist is the latest Republican to file paperwork to enter Wisconsin's governor's race.

State Representative Timothy Ramthun (R- Campbellsport) has been praised by former President Donald Trump for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, which legal experts have said is impossible.

The Republican filed paperwork with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission Thursday and looks to join former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Marine Veteran Kevin Nicholson in the GOP primary.

UW-Madison Political Science Professor David Canon said Ramthun's entry "throws a monkey wrench" in the GOP primary.

"This really does shake things up," Canon said. "I think the key thing for the Republican party right now is to unify whoever the nominee is going to be. You often see divisive primaries that peel voters from another candidate, but whoever wins the primary, that will be the test to see who can work to bring in supporters from the losing campaign."

Kleefisch and Nicholson's campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

Ramthun began making headlines after he tried to force a resolution on the Assembly floor that would revoke Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes for President Biden. It's a move that top Republicans and nonpartisan attorneys said can't be done.

On Wednesday, a campaign website for Ramthun was briefly up before it was taken down later in the evening.

"I’m a servant of, by, and for the people, who believes in truth, transparency and integrity,” the website said before it was inactive. “I will call for an independent, full forensic physical cyber audit for the November 2022 election, beginning with my race, regardless of its outcome.”

The website also suggested overturning the election will be the centerpiece of Ramthun's campaign.

Canon said focusing a campaign on baseless claims the election was stolen will grab Trump's attention, but he doubts it will be enough to win the Republican nomination.

"I think this will appeal to a group of Trump supporters in the state, but this is not what people care about right now," Canon said. "They care about the economy, inflation. That's always the number one concern for people when there's economic uncertainty."

While Ramthun has been publicly praised by Trump, he has not received an official endorsement. On Saturday, Ramthun has planned a "special announcement" in Kewaskum with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who also spews election misinformation and falsely claims Trump won in 2020.

Lindell has endorsed Ramthun and will appear with him during Saturday's event.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin said in a statement, "Ramthun is one of the most extreme politicians in the country, and his entrance into the Republican primary would create chaos as Ramthun, Kleefisch, and Nicholson battle over who is the most extreme and divisive."

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