Benjamin Waller-Wells in The New Yorker:
Tim Michels, a wealthy sixty-year-old businessman, was the Republican nominee for governor of Wisconsin. During the primary, when asked whether the 2020 Presidential election had been stolen, Michels said, “Maybe.” A few months later, he said that, if he became governor, Republicans would “never lose an election in Wisconsin again.” Given the context, it was hard to know whether that was normal political braggadocio or a statement of intent. Donald Trump came to Wisconsin to campaign for Michels, who made election integrity, as he put it, a big part of his pitch. He proposed to eliminate the nonpartisan agency that oversees the state’s elections and replace it with a new entity whose composition and mission was left a little hazy.
Part of what made this year’s midterms so nerve-racking was the possibility that the election-denial movement might succeed in warping the mechanisms of American democracy; in Wisconsin and elsewhere, democracy itself was said to be on the ballot. Polls leading up to Election Night showed Michels neck and neck with the incumbent Democratic governor, Tony Evers. But when the votes started to come in last Tuesday, the election seemed to be going Evers’s way. Michels addressed his supporters just after midnight, and gave a frank concession speech. “It wasn’t our night,” he said. “I thank everybody for your support. God bless.” With that, Michels left the stage, and his candidacy dissolved. It would be another eleven hours before the Associated Press determined that Evers had, in fact, won the race.