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Wisconsin Spent Months Investigating The 2020 Election. These Candidates Still Believe It Was Fraudulent.

In another episode of Election Deniers On The Ballot, reporter Kaleigh Rogers explores the candidates running in Wisconsin’s Republican primary elections who believe the 2020 election with stolen from former President Donald Trump.


KALEIGH ROGERS: Just hours before a mob of rioters smashed their way into the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, a senior aide to Sen. Ron Johnson fired off a text to a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s team.

“Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise,” read the message, according to records released by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.

The aide explained that it was for an “alternate slate of electors” for Michigan and Wisconsin. Pence’s aide responded immediately: “Do not give that to him.”

Johnson has batted away criticism over the texts, saying that he had nothing to do with the aide’s conversation. And while he initially pledged not to vote to certify the 2020 election results, he changed his mind after the attack on the Capitol. But Johnson certainly played a role in sowing doubt about the election, and this week, there are a number of candidates running in Johnson’s home state of Wisconsin who have questioned or denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

In the GOP primary for governor, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and businessman Tim Michels are leading the pack, and both have questioned the results of the 2020 election, though neither has fully denied its legitimacy. Here’s Kleefisch in a campaign video on her website:

REBECCA KLEEFISCH: Nobody can say with a straight face that the 2020 election was normal.

ROGERS: In the Republican race for attorney general — a position that plays a role in certifying election results — there’s more than one election denier hoping to challenge the current Democratic AG. For example, Karen Mueller, a conservative lawyer, filed a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to throw out the results of the 2020 election. And former State Assemblyman Adam Jarchow has said he would launch a statewide investigation into the 2020 election if he becomes AG.

There’s just a few more weeks of primary races left, but there will be no shortage of election-denying candidates in the midterm elections this November. If you want to know more about election-denying candidates running in your state, follow along with FiveThirtyEight.

Kaleigh Rogers is FiveThirtyEight’s technology and politics reporter.