On Monday, August 7, Fox Valley Initiative hosted a standing-room-only crowd at FreedomProject Academy, there to hear Brian Schimming, chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW).
Schimming was adamant that the 2024 election “is a fight to save America.” He said Wisconsin will be one of a handful of battleground states next year: “Wisconsin is not 1 of 50 states going into this election cycle — it’s 1 of about 5.” He said Arizona, Georgia, and maybe Pennsylvania would join Wisconsin as battleground states. He said the Republican presidential candidate debate taking place in Milwaukee on August 23 has already attracted more than 500 credentialed media from around the world.
What makes Wisconsin special? He pointed out that 11 times in the past 23 years, statewide elections have been decided by fewer than 30,000 votes ... in a state with a population of nearly 6 million.
He theorized that Republicans’ big losses in the state – for example, Justice Dan Kelly’s loss to Janet Protasiewicz for the state supreme court, and Tim Michels’ loss to Tony Evers for governor – have two things in common: very negative primaries and outside money. He implored members of the audience to rally behind whichever presidential candidate emerges from the Republican primary. (I can’t find in my notes from this meeting any strategy Schimming might have had for addressing the outside-money problem.)
Schimming said the RPW’s strategy for winning in 2024 was two-fold:
* make sure every polling place in the state has a full complement of Republican poll workers (not just watchers/observers). To learn more about becoming a a poll worker in Outagamie County, click here. If you don’t reside in Outagamie County, contact your own county GOP office to learn more.
* encourage Wisconsin Republican voters to “bank their votes” – that is, to request absentee ballots and vote before Election Day. While Republicans tend to prefer – and take pride in – voting on Election Day, Schimming said absentee voting will help produce the turnout Wisconsin needs to turn red in 2024. “Democrats out-request Republican voters about 2-to-1 on absentee ballots,” he said. “For those who do request absentee ballots, the return rate is exactly the same: 90 percent.” Schimming said the party can track who requested and returned an absentee ballot ... and once that vote is “banked,” party resources that otherwise would have been spent encouraging that voter to vote on Election Day will be freed up to encourage turnout by voters who aren’t consistent voters.
Effective January 1, 2024, Schimming noted, voters will be able to go to MyVote Wisconsin and complete a form saying they will want an absentee ballot sent to them for every election in 2024: the April 2 Presidential preference primary and Spring general election; the August primary; and the November general election.
In closing his remarks, Schimming said in order for Republicans to win elections in 2024, “we have to think like a majority.” He re-emphasized the importance of poll workers and the Bank Your Vote campaign as ways to do that.
The following points also came up during the meeting, often from audience questions:
* “Boys in girls’ locker rooms is just wrong,” Schimming said. “Republicans ought to own that issue.” That was met with substantial applause from the audience.
* Schimming noted that Dan Kelly lost independent women in Wisconsin by 48 percentage points. An audience member pointed out “abortion is the issue,” and Schimming responded. He noted independent voters would vote for a candidate who would support “three exceptions [rape, incest, life of mother] and 15 weeks [before which abortion would be allowed].” He pointed out that U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson “is not in a good mood on this issue, and if Wisconsin’s state elected officials don’t figure out what they’re going to do, Ron will do it for them” – a reference to Johnson’s interest in a statewide referendum that would gauge Wisconsinites’ positions on the abortion issue.
* Asked what RPW is going to do to get out the youth vote, Schimming answered only indirectly, telling members of the audience: “You can’t show up every two years and expect them to believe you. You have to get to know your college Republicans, get on campuses in the first or second week of classes.” He said RPW will be training people who are interested in working to get out the vote on campuses.
* In January 2023, the Wisconsin Elections Commission confirmed communities with populations less than 7,500 need not use electronic voting machines. An audience member asked how we can get rid of voting machines in smaller municipalities – Schimming merely responded, “talk to them,” meaning the town/village clerks.
* An audience member asked if voters can trust the voter rolls, trust that elections will be run fairly. Schimming said the RPW does have a legal strategy, noting that’s why poll workers are so important, because poll workers are the ones who can provide actual evidence of wrongdoing in elections, rather than just assertions of wrongdoing or fraud.