GOP guv candidate Tim Michels, responding to negative ads targeting his abortion position, said Tuesday he would “never arrest a doctor.”

Current law stipulates anyone other than the mother who performs an abortion is guilty of a Class H felony.

The construction exec at the Rotary Club of Milwaukee repeated he would sign a bill to add exceptions for rape and incest if one were brought to his desk. The only exception under the 1849 law, now in force because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overriding abortion rights, is for the life of the mother.

“I’m not an authoritarian governor. I’m a governor who has common sense who listens to the people,” Michels said.

Michels had initially called the old law an “exact mirror” of his position on abortion.

Kayla Anderson, spokesperson for Dem Gov. Tony Evers, said Michels’ comments showed he had “doubled down” on supporting law enforcement locking up doctors who provide abortions.

“While Michels is fighting to impose his radical, anti-abortion agenda on our state, Governor Evers will always do the right thing and protect access to safe and legal abortions,” she said.

Michels gave opening remarks during Tuesday’s event and then took questions submitted by Rotary Club members that were read by a moderator. Michels opted for an interview with a club member over a joint meeting with the Milwaukee Press Club.

Among the questions was how he would address crime, particularly those offenses involving assault rifles. Michels said he would make it clear to those who commit crimes that their behavior won’t be tolerated.

“I’m going to talk to the bad guys in my inaugural speech, I’m going to talk to the bad guys,” Michels said. “I doubt if they’ll be listening, OK? But word will get out: `Governor Michels is not going to tolerate what’s going on right now.’ And this attitude that they have where they think they can get away with it, it’s going to stop.”

Michels Tuesday also walked back his comments calling the Department of Natural Resources “broken” at a debate with Evers on Friday.

“It’s not my opinion that the DNR is broken. Again, it’s what I hear everywhere I go,” Michels said.

Michels proposed potentially splitting the agency into two parts: a business side and an outdoor recreation side, adding hunters “feel like the DNR is out to get them.”

Proposals to split the agency have surfaced off and on in the Capitol over the decades. In 2001, then-GOP Rep. John Gard proposed splitting the agency into one department that oversaw environmental policy and another that included fish, wildlife and parks.

Six years ago, then-GOP Rep. Adam Jarchow floated a plan to have one department that oversaw hunting, fishing and motorized outdoor recreation, while the other was in charge of endangered resources, environmental protection and pollution control.

Evers spokesperson Anderson knocked Michels on the DNR comments and others he made, saying the construction exec has failed to provide specifics on how he would improve the state.

Michels also clarified his comments during Friday’s debate that some Wisconsinites got “lazy” during the pandemic.

“We created a class of people during [COVID-19] that found themselves comfortable to stay at home,” Michels said today, citing unemployment and stimulus checks.

Michels also said “we’re going to stop” conversations about whether the 2020 election was stolen, saying he wished election concerns had been addressed by previous governors.

Several reviews have found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. The construction exec made the comments in response to a question about what policies he supports to ensure fair elections.

“Everywhere I go, I get this question: ‘Tim, was the election rigged, was the election fixed?’ People have questions — so do I. Here’s the frustrating part: the election was 23 months ago, and we’re still talking about it today,” Michels said.

Michels, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, added he would work with the Legislature to address election integrity concerns, without providing specifics. He also noted Gov. Tony Evers vetoed GOP bills related to election administration.

Watch the video at WisconsinEye.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email