After failing to pressure Robin Vos to take on the futile task of decertifying Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election results, former President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed the Assembly speaker’s primary opponent.
Adam Steen, of Sturtevant, is challenging the longtime Republican leader. In his endorsement, Trump called him a “rising patriotic candidate.”
“Adam Steen … is a motivated Patriot, dedicated to making Wisconsin Great Again,” Trump said in a statement. “He has had the courage to stand up strongly against ‘Speaker’ Vos. Adam will bravely serve the people of Wisconsin, and bring with him strength, wisdom, and a new patriotism. Adam Steen has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
Trump’s endorsement comes after months of prodding Vos to pursue a legally impossible endeavor, and days before he is set to campaign in Waukesha with construction magnate Tim Michels, who is vying for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
The rally with Michels, at the Waukesha County Fairgrounds, will take place less than 30 miles from Vos’ district. Vos is backing Kleefisch, as is Trump’s former running mate, Mike Pence. The former vice president will campaign with Kleefisch in Pewaukee on Wednesday.
The dueling endorsements and events between Trump and Pence illustrate a chasm within the Republican Party, with the former president continuing to relitigate his 2020 election loss as Pence encourages the party to look forward to future political battles.
Vos has represented the 63rd Assembly District (which includes much of southern Racine County) since 2005, served as a co-chair of the Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee in 2011, and has served as Assembly speaker since 2013. As such, he has led the Legislature through landmark conservative initiatives over the last decade including Act 10, right-to-work, tax cuts and a lame-duck session strongly curbing the powers of then-incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Since Evers took office, Vos — with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu — has acted as a bulwark against Democratic efforts to such an extent that a September 2021 POLITICO article referred to him as a “shadow governor.”
Vos also hired former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to lead a review of the state’s 2020 election — an endeavor that has stretched on for more than a year to the tune of more than $1 million in taxpayer dollars.
That hasn’t stopped Trump from consistently referring to Vos as a “RINO” (Republican in Name Only) for rejecting calls to overturn the results of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election — something nonpartisan lawyers and analysts have repeatedly confirmed is not legally possible.
Vos told WISN-TV last month that Trump had recently called him in another attempt to convince him to pursue decertification.
“It’s very consistent," Vos said of Trump’s calls. "He makes his case, which I respect. He would like us to do something different in Wisconsin. I explained it's not allowed under the Constitution.”
It was after that conversation that Trump first threatened to endorse Steen.
“Speaker Vos had 17 years to prove to Wisconsin residents that he has their best interest in mind, but even in his own campaign efforts, Vos has tried to mislead his constituents, sending out mailers that feature a picture he took with me — trying to make voters believe I am a Vos supporter, which I am not,” Trump said in his Tuesday statement. “He does not come close to supporting America First policies, and I do not come close to supporting him.”
In a recent interview with the Racine Journal Times, Vos said of Trump: “Now, he hasn’t criticized me for the fact that we’ve cut taxes or that I’m pro-life or that I’ve worked harder than most people for his election in 2020. He just wants me to do something I cannot do.”