AP

Wisconsin Republican Michels: ‘I will never arrest a doctor’

Oct 18, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:32 pm

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican running for governor in Wisconsin suggested Tuesday that he would not enforce the swing state’s near-total ban on abortions, saying “I will never arrest a doctor.”

Tim Michels is locked in a tight race with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and abortion has been a major issue. Michels, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, said in the Republican primary that he backed a state law dating to 1849 that makes it a felony for doctors to perform nearly all abortions.

But last month Michels changed course and said he would sign a bill granting exceptions in cases of rape and incest. He repeated that position Tuesday during a Q&A at the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, but went a step further.

“I will never arrest a doctor, as they’re saying,” Michels said. “I’m a reasonable guy.”

Under Wisconsin’s abortion ban, doctors who perform abortions can be found guilty of a class H felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The governor is not responsible for enforcing the law, but Michels’ comment suggested he did not support anyone arresting a doctor who would violate it.

Michels’ spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to clarify what the candidate meant.

Abortion has seeped into all of the top races in Wisconsin this election cycle.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a lawsuit, supported by Evers, seeking to overturn the state’s ban. His Republican challenger, Fond du Lac District Attorney Eric Toney, has said he wants to allow district attorneys to cross county boundaries to enforce the ban.

That is not currently allowed under state law unless a district attorney asks for assistance. Kaul has said he would not enforce the abortion ban.

Evers and his allies have been spending tens of millions of dollars on television advertising to hammer Michels on his previous support for the 1849 law, which he called the “exact mirror” of his position. Evers is challenging the law in court and has twice called special sessions of the Legislature seeking to repeal the ban and create a way to put the question before voters. Republicans rejected both proposals.

Democrats are trying to make the governor’s race a referendum on abortion, pointing to public polls that show broad bipartisan support for legal abortions and at the very least exceptions for rape and incest.

Michels said Tuesday that the attacks against him on abortion are “just not sticking.”

Evers said he would not sign a bill granting abortion exceptions for rape and incest if it leaves the underlying abortion ban in place. Evers also said he would grant clemency to any doctor who is convicted under the law and sentenced to prison.

While Democrats have tried to make the race about abortion, Michels has focused on crime. He promised Tuesday to reduce crime statewide and in Milwaukee, promising “life will be better for everybody.”

Michels also promised to have “massive” tax reform, including lowering the income tax to a nearly flat rate for all filers of around 5%.

Michels, who co-owns the state’s largest construction company that has won more than $1.1 billion in state contracts since 2014, said he was consulting with state and national ethics attorneys about how he can divest himself.

“There will be no conflict of interest after I am sworn in as governor,” he pledged.

Michels said after the event, in response to a question from a reporter, that he would “certainly” accept the results of the November election after previously not committing fully to that. He also promised to sign a number of bills Evers vetoed that Republican supporters said were designed to make elections more secure. A number of the measures made it more difficult to vote absentee.

“No one two years from now, four years from now, six years from now, whatever, will ever have a question about election integrity here in Wisconsin,” Michels promised.

Michels also suggested that he would be open to breaking up the state Department of Natural Resources into two agencies, one to deal with hunters and the other focused on business regulations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

1 day ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

3 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

10 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

11 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

12 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Wisconsin Republican Michels: ‘I will never arrest a doctor’