RACINE COUNTY – Two long-time Racine County legislators are being challenged in the August 9 Republican primary 2020 election by candidates that are questioning the integrity of the 2020 general election in which President Joe Biden narrowly defeated Donald Trump.
The local GOP incumbents
Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, will face Adam Steen of Burlington while Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, will be opposed by Jay Stone of Pleasant Prairie, according to documents filed with the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC). Vos is among seven members of the Assembly to have a primary challenge. Wanggaard, and one other GOP State Senate member (Sen. Devin Lemahieu), are being challenged by candidates from within their own party.
Candidates seeking office in this November’s general election were required to submit nomination petitions to the WEC by last Wednesday (June 1). Two or more candidates from the same party will face off in a primary election, scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Steen vs. Vos
Vos, first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2004, has been speaker since 2013. The 63rd Assembly District includes Burlington, Rochester, Union Grove, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant.
His challenger, Steen (https://www.steenforus.com/), is an applications engineer. In 2018, he unsuccessfully ran in the Republican primary for the First Congressional District seat. Bryan Steil of Janesville won that race and went on to win the general election.
Steen turned in 392 signatures on his nomination petition. State law requires Assembly candidates to have “not less than 200 nor more than 400” signatures of people who live in the candidate’s district.
Since launching his current campaign in March, Steen has had some public dustups with Vos, including calling the Assembly Speaker “a treasonous traitor” for failing to attempt to overturn the 2020 election that Steen says fraudulently elected Biden. Steen made that remark during a rally outside the State Capitol organized by 2020 election skeptics.
Last month, Steen planned to march in Rochester’s Memorial Day parade. But organizers later rescinded permission and only allowed incumbent elected officials – like Vos – to participate. Steen’s campaign has invited Vos to three public debates in the weeks running up to the primary election. At the first event – held last Thursday – Steen debated an empty chair because Vos declined to attend, according to the Steen campaign’s Facebook page. Upcoming debates are scheduled for June 23 and July 21.
Vos has been roundly criticized by supporters of former President Trump. He was booed by attendees at last month’s state Republican Party convention for saying: “We have no ability to decertify the (presidential) election and go back and nullify it. We do not. We need to focus on going forward.”
Vos, last year, hired former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to investigate how the 2020 presidential election was conducted in the state. The taxpayer-funded probe, now estimated to cost about $900,000, has been challenged in a series of lawsuits.
President Biden defeated Trump in Wisconsin in 2020 by more than 20,000 vote. The vote was confirmed by formal recounts in the state’s two largest counties – Milwaukee and Dane – and upheld by state and federal court rulings. Statewide investigations have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin in 2020.
Vos (http://www.vosforassembly.com/), meanwhile, has been campaigning in his district. His endorsements include Wisconsin Right to Life, National Rifle Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association and the Tavern League of Wisconsin. He has easily won re-election against Democratic opponents, including 58 a percent victory in 2020.
No Democratic or third-party candidates have filed nomination papers for this year’s Assembly District 43 election, according to the WEC.
Stone vs. Wanggaard
Wanggaard (http://www.wanggaardforsenate.com/home-1.html), a retired Racine Police officer, has represented Senate District 21 continuously since 2015. SD 21 covers western portions of the City of Racine and a large swath of rural and suburban Racine and Kenosha counties.
Wanggaard was first elected to the State Senate in the 2010 wave election that put Republican Scott Walker in the governor’s office and gave the GOP control of both houses of the Legislature.
In June 2012, he was recalled in a special election driven by the controversial Act 10 legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights of many of the state’s public sector employees. Wanggaard was defeated in the recall by the same candidate whom he had defeated in 2010 – John Lehman.
Wanggaard subsequently ran again and was elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2018. He was the Senate Majority Caucus Chair in 2019 and chairs the Senate’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee and is vice-chair of the Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee.
Stone (https://stoneforstatesenator.com/) is a retired hypnotherapist and an early critic of the 2020 election handling in Wisconsin. He filed 603 signatures on his nomination petition. State law requires Senate candidates to have not less than 400 nor more than 800 signatures of people who live in the candidate’s district.
According to a lengthy story published by ProPublica, Stone filed a complaint in the summer of 2020 with the WEC against grant money from the national nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) that went to the state’s five largest cities:
Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha. The funds were earmarked for COVID-19 pandemic safety supplies, poll worker recruitment and training, drop boxes and voter education about absentee voting.
Stone argued that the grants were a way to sway the election in the Democratic-leaning cities. The WEC rejected his claim. A separate complaint he filed with the Federal Election Commission is pending. Read the full story at: https://www.propublica.org/article/election-fraud-wisconsin-zuckerbucks-jay-stone
The CTCL, whose donors include Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, distributed grants to 214 Wisconsin municipalities prior to the 2020 election. The City of Racine received $1.69 million from the CTCL and Kenosha received $867,799. The CTCL has reported that it made grants to 2,500 elections agencies in 49 states.
Stone, who is also vice president of the Honesty Open Transparent (HOT) Government organization, has made election fraud allegations the hallmark of his primary election campaign. The main page of his campaign website features a description of what he calls “The Obama Cartel.”
Stone has also been a paid assistant in the Gabelman-led investigation of the 2020 election in Wisconsin.
The GOP winner of the Senate District 21 primary will likely face a Democratic opponent in the fall. Kendell Curtis of Greendale filed a nomination petition with the WEC last week. The document is in WEC review.
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