MADISON, Wis. – Tim Michels is learning the hard way how challenging it is to run a campaign for governor. While he has said that he won’t ask people for money and that he would not “owe anyone anything,” he quickly changed course according to the Journal Sentinel.
Not only did Michels beg for money just three days after he announced his candidacy for governor over email, he has made plenty of asks on conservative radio as well. If Michels is already breaking his own promises on campaign fundraising, how can Wisconsinites trust him to lead the state?
Read more on Michels’ fundraising flip-flop below:
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bice: Republican Tim Michels asks for money for his governor’s bid after promising he wouldn’t
Tim Michels made an interesting — and refreshing — announcement when he got into the race for governor in April.
Michels, a Republican multimillionaire, vowed that he wouldn’t be asking for a nickel from any individual.
“I will never ask anyone for a donation,” said Michels, who co-owns and co-manages Michels Corp., a family-owned construction company. He’s accepting donations of up to $500 to his campaign, but he won’t be dialing for dollars.
“I’m not gonna owe anyone anything,” Michels told conservative talk show host Jay Weber on WISN-AM (1130) on April 25.
Sounds like a variation on former multimillionaire Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl’s old campaign theme: “Nobody’s senator but yours.”
But Michels apparently found that self-funded campaigns are easier said than done.
On April 28, just three days after he entered the race, Team Tim sent supporters a fundraising email.
“You’ve been identified as a potential grassroots leader in this effort,” the email said. “Will you become a Michels for Governor Founding Conservative by making a donation today?”
In the weeks after, Michels campaign sent out a text message and more emails signed by the candidate himself requesting funds. In each, Michels, a roadbuilder, said the state is on the wrong track under Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
“As Governor, I want to end this nightmare and immediately get to work to rebuild our state,” Michels wrote. “Will you join me in this mission by chipping in a few bucks to my fight?”
The May 31 note ends, “Thank you, Tim Michels.”
Remember, this is the same guy who said just in April that he will “never ask anyone for a donation.”
How does his campaign explain this?
Just like you’d expect.
“Tim has said he has not personally asked for donations to his campaign, and he hasn’t,” said Michels spokesman Chris Walker. “He’s capped donations to $500 because he’s not going to be influenced by anyone in this race.”
So a written request for money from the candidate himself is not really a request for money from the candidate himself?
“There is an obvious difference between a personal solicitation and a campaign text message,” Walker said. “We trust the voters of Wisconsin know the difference, even if some insiders are trying to pretend otherwise.”
For the record, that WISN interview wasn’t the only time that Michels promised never to ask for campaign funds.
This is what he told the “Regular Joe Show” on WTAQ-AM (1360) in Green Bay.
In a soft ask, Michels said anyone could go to his campaign website and give up to $500. But he said that’s as far as he’ll go.
“I’m not asking — I’m not asking anybody to contribute to my campaign,” Michels said on May 9. “I will be a governor that is beholden to no one.”
So no fundraising solicitations — except by email and text.
On May 28, in an email signed by Michels, he said he wouldn’t take money from political action committees or their lobbyists.
“Don’t need it. Don’t want it. Won’t take it,” Michels wrote. “But that means grassroots donations from supporters like you make all the difference in my campaign — will you contribute $5, $10 or even $21 to help take on Tony Evers?”
Not big bucks, but it’s hard to say that’s not a solicitation by the candidate.
Then Michels sent out a text message just last week using his endorsement by former President Donald Trump to try to drum up campaign cash.
“Hey, it’s Tim,” the text began.
“President Trump gets me — we’re both guys who build things, not politicians,” Michels wrote. “And he knows I can rebuild Wisconsin. Join his endorsement and chip in $5 to help me get (sic) work,” then providing a link to his donor page.
From Tim Michels but — to hear his campaign tell it — not really.