Wisconsin GOP Guy Brags About How Well Suppressing Black Vote Worked In 2022

Wisconsin GOP Guy Brags About How Well Suppressing Black Vote Worked In 2022

Robert Spindell, a Republican member of Wisconsin’s bipartisan elections commission, is really proud of the work he’s done to democracy. Not only was he one of the state’s fake electors for Donald Trump in 2020 (he’s facing multiple lawsuits for that one), but as former Republican Charlie Sykes explains at The Bulwark, Spindell is

one of those ubiquitous figures who shows up at every Lincoln Day dinner, fundraiser, and meetings of the Republican Bowling and Macrame Club. He is also the chairman of the GOP’s 4th congressional district in Milwaukee.

On top of that, Sykes says, Spindell “also, apparently, likes to put things in writing,” including an email sent to about 1,700 Fourth District Republicans in which Spindell boasted about the impressive job the state had done in suppressing the vote in Milwaukee, where there are far too many Democrats and far too many people of color, as first reported by Urban Milwaukee.

That email is, even if you’ve never seen a Duesenberg automobile or a dictionary company’s fact check, a doozy:

In the City of Milwaukee, with the 4th Congressional District Republican Party working very closely with the RPW, RNC, Republican Assembly & Senate Campaign Committees, Statewide Campaigns and RPMC in the Black and Hispanic areas, we can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas. [Emphasis added by Sykes in this and other quotes — Dok]

Spindell should be very very proud of the reduced voting in Milwaukee, especially in the “overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.” Was there more? Of course there was, because there is no longer a quiet part with these jerks.

Spindell went on to swoon over his organization’s “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” which included:

  • “Biting Black Radio Negative Commercials run last few weeks of the election cycle straight at Dem Candidates…
  • A substantial & very effective Republican Coordinated Election Integrity program resulting with lots of Republican paid Election Judges & trained Observers & extremely significant continued Court Litigation.”

Also, while he was at it, Sykes notes, Spindell reminded his readers that all that voter suppression did a dandy job of making a close Senate election far less of a concern:

In a Democrat City or Democrat County where up to 80% of the people are voting for the Democrats – that’s a good thing and helped insure that Sen. Johnson got over the goal line.

Urban Milwaukee showed the email to Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler, who was duly impressed by just how sleazy it was.

“Wow,” Wikler said. “That’s as ugly as it gets. I have never seen someone take credit so blatantly for suppressing the vote. We saw the same techniques with the Russian effort to suppress the vote in 2016.”

Lest anyone get the idea this is just one rogue GOP operative taking credit for a perfectly ordinary change in voter behavior, Urban Milwaukee reminds us that a former GOP state Senate staffer said that when Republicans were putting together the state’s first voter-ID law back in 2011, they were “giddy” over the prospects for reducing turnout among young and minority voters. And as it turned out, the GOP had good cause for all that gid:

In fact, in the 2016 presidential election, the first one fully effected by the law, there was a 61,000 reduction in the number of voters in Milwaukee, with Neil Albrecht, then the executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, saying that the greatest declines were “in the districts we projected would have the the most trouble with ID requirements.”

So yeah, this has been a long-term project for Republicans, although until fairly recently they’ve at least made a token effort at sticking to dogwhistles instead of bragging how good they are at suppressing the vote.

Wikler also pointed out that Wisconsin Republicans have taken other actions aimed at making sure 2018’s high turnout in Milwaukee wasn’t repeated, passing laws and suing to get rid of absentee ballot drop boxes and to reduce early voting from six weeks to two weeks.

But let’s not get carried away and call Spindell some sort of racist vote suppressor just because he happened to exult about lower turnout by Milwaukee’s minority Democrats. After all, he told the AP he wasn’t boasting at all, no sir, and Spindell didn’t fold or mutilate any ballots, either.

“I will not stand for that,” Spindell said in an interview. “The last thing I want to do is suppress votes.”
Spindell said his email was an attempt to detail positive steps Republicans did to counter the Democratic message in Milwaukee.

You see? It was about countering Democratic messaging, is all, and if Democrats stayed home instead of voting, that’s not suppression, it’s just good messaging, by having lots of poll watchers and sending the message to people in minority communities so they know they’re being watched when they vote.

Elsewhere in the email, Spindell called on Republicans to make even greater “messaging” gains:

The Democratic candidates were unable to obtain — even though they really tried hard — the votes they needed, expected and demanded from the Black Community,” Spindell wrote. “There is still a great deal of much more concentrated work we need to do in the Black and Hispanic Communities by continuing to show how the Democratic Elected Officials and Candidates are not watching out for the livelihoods of the people who live in these areas and the Republicans can.

We suppose we should congratulate Spindell on somehow avoiding the phrase “Democrat Plantation” there. But it’s funny that if his goal was getting minority voters to switch to voting Republican, Spindell portrayed declining minority votes as the victory, not any gains in those communities voting for Republicans. But why try too hard to convince people to choose you when you can just as well tell them to stay home?

[The Bulwark / AP via PBS Wisconsin / Urban Milwaukee / Photo: Michael Flechman, Creative Commons license 2.0]

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