This first appeared in the RightWisconsin Daily Update newsletter on 1/18/21.

In the words of that great philosopher David Lee Roth, “Hey, I heard you missed us, we’re back! I brought my pencil. Give me something to write on.”

While I was away, we learned from our crosstown friends the Wisconsin Examiner that 15 members of the legislature wrote a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking him to help overturn the 2020 presidential election prior to the attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump radicals. After repeating the lie that there were enough election “illegalities” to affect the election’s outcome, including a conspiracy theory involving Facebook, the letter writers called upon the Vice President to delay the counting of electoral votes for ten days while Republican-controlled legislatures overturned election results.

“Therefore, we write to ask you to comply with our reasonable request to afford our nation more time to properly review the 2020 election by postponing the January 6th opening and counting of the electoral votes for at least 10 days, affording our respective bodies to meet, investigate, and as a body vote on certification or decertification of the election. This action can be completed prior to the inauguration date, as required by the Constitution.”

Of course, the Vice President had no Constitutional authority to do as the letter writers requested, but that did not stop them from trying to undermine democracy.

The letter signers from Wisconsin were: Sen. André Jacque (R-DePere), Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rep. Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger), Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), Rep. Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago), Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), Rep. Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser), Rep. Dave Murphy (R-Greenville), Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), Rep. Tim Ramthun (R-Campbellsport), Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers), Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego).

Unfortunately, they were hardly alone in wanting to undermine our democratic processes. Two Republican Congressmen from Wisconsin, Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald, actually voted to challenge the election results. But all of the Republican members of Congress from Wisconsin actually questioned the election results. We have also already detailed the actions of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.

But there are others that either supported overturning the election results by undemocratic means or were at least enablers. Just a week before the assault on the Capitol, Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) said in his newsletter to constituents that he supported having the election overturned and Wisconsin’s electors assigned by the legislature.

Backing all of this insanity are rightwing websites and talk radio voices, repeating the lie the election was “stolen” and often supporting the most undemocratic means of overturning the election results.

It is going to be a long way back for the Republican Party to sanity. To start that journey, it’s going to need more voices speaking up and saying that the post-election behavior of the Republican Party was wrong, terribly wrong.

Maybe that will happen after the events of January 6. Or maybe it will take more violence by Trump supporters for Republicans to realize that it is their rhetoric, and not just the president’s rhetoric, that fed that mob’s fury. 

Republicans can take the first step towards sanity by removing Brandtjen as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and Sanfelippo as the committee’s vice chairman. Signing that letter proves that they do not have the credibility or the seriousness required to be the Republican legislative leaders on election reforms.