Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Michels Calls For ‘Pitchforks and Torches’

Republican candidate for governor attacks media. Democrats accuse him of 'encouraging violence.'

By - Sep 3rd, 2022 02:22 pm
Tim Michels. Photo from Michels for Governor Facebook page.

Tim Michels. Photo from Michels for Governor Facebook page.

Wisconsin’s Republican candidate for governor, Tim Michels, has called on people to take up “pitchforks and torches” in reaction to a story that detailed his giving to anti-abortion groups, churches that have taken anti-gay positions and a group that also opposes some forms of contraception.

Michels made his comment in an interview with conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna, as Scott Bauer reported.

On Wednesday, a story by reporter Corrine Hess revealed that Michels and his wife Barbara “donated $250,000 to anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups, representing about 15% of his total donations in 2020. The Timothy and Barbara Michels Family Foundation funded organizations that oppose all forms of contraception and abortions in all cases. The foundation also spent thousands on churches with anti-LGBTQ beliefs.”

Michels quickly launched an attack on the newspaper, as Urban Milwaukee reported, releasing an email to his supporters declaring that “The media has reached a new low in Wisconsin,” and accusing the JS of “disgusting, anti-religious bigotry.”

The donations by the Michels dramatize his opposition to abortion — he has said the state’s 1849 abortion ban, which allows no exceptions for victims of rape and incest, is in line with his personal beliefs — and his opposition to same-sex marriage. Both positions are opposed by a majority of voters in the state, as polls by the Marquette University Law School have found. In addition, one of the groups funded by the Michels foundation is Pro Life Wisconsin, which supports a complete ban not just on abortion, but on the most common forms of contraception and birth control — a position also opposed by most voters.

Since the story’s publication on his donations, “Michels has gone after not just Evers and Democrats, but also the Journal Sentinel and, more broadly, all reporters,” Bauer reported.

“I believe people should just, just be ready to get out on the streets with pitchforks and torches with how low the liberal media has become,” Michels said Thursday on the talk radio show. “People need to decide ‘Am I going to put up with this? Am I going to tolerate this, taking somebody that gives money to churches or cancer research and use that as a hit piece in the media?’ I’m appalled. It’s disgusting.”

The following day, Sam Roecker, spokesperson for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, tweeted that Michels had gone too far. “Instead of explaining why he’s funding groups working to ban access to abortion and contraception, Tim Michels is encouraging violence,” Roecker wrote.

Michels’ campaign spokesperson, Anna Kelly, defended his comments, saying he was only “using a figure of speech.”

Hannah Menchhoff, a spokesperson for the state Democratic Party, linked Michels comments to Donald Trump, who has endorsed the multi-millionaire Wisconsin businessman“Michels’ threats of violence are dangerous and another extreme attempt to pander to Donald Trump and the MAGA base,” she charged.

This is not the first time a Republican candidate in Wisconsin has used violent imagery to stir up voters. Michels main opponent in the Republican primary, Rebecca Kleefisch, called for the party to “hire mercenaries” and “paid fighters” to win the election.

Nor is the first time a conservative candidate in Wisconsin has used campaign coverage by the media as a way to fire up their supporters. Back in 2019, the revelation that state Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn founded and oversaw a private religious school that prohibits teachers, students and parents from being in gay relationships did not prevent him from winning election. In fact, some believe it helped propel him to victory in the April 2019 election by driving a higher turnout of conservative Republican voters, who were angry about media coverage of his views.

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8 thoughts on “Back in the News: Michels Calls For ‘Pitchforks and Torches’”

  1. Michels is engaging in very strange rhetoric. The media has simply revealed what Tim Michels stands for. Michels has twisted this factual reporting as something to get angry about and has encouraged disorder and violence in response, perhaps along the lines of the mob who attacked our democracy on 1/6/2021. Michels has yet to denounce this attack on our democracy or even recognize who the President of the United States is now. Tim Michels has been endorsed by Donald Trump, the master election denier. Voters must look at what Michels stands for as revealed by his donations and understand that the discriminatory nature of these positions, along with a Trump-controlled state, would seriously erode our individual rights and democratic institutions.

  2. Polaris says:

    Wait, I thought Trump-backed candidates were disappearing Trump now that they need broader support in their general elections. (Especially statewide elections.) Didn’t Michels get the memo? Instead, he’s becoming more like Trump. What an idiot…

  3. ringo muldano says:

    Dim Tim talks like most typical rCon cocknozzles do that get rich. They think god’s shows favor to them, ergo they are smarter and better than others. At the end of the day, they may or may not be true believers, but they reveal themselves to be selfish narcissists.

  4. says:


    Too bad he’s not a bit dimmer. He is a dangerous, mean-spirited, violence-pushing candidate. Let’s not let him become the governor.

  5. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Another fascist business leader suggesting that an armed mob should put him in power, so 2020.

  6. julia o'connor says:

    …Tim Michels, has called on people to take up “pitchforks and torches”…

    proving Biden’s point.

  7. NieWiederKrieg says:

    12 years ago, Sarah Palin told Republicans to shoot Democratic lawmakers.

    In March of 2010, Sarah Palin released a map of 20 Congressional Districts represented by Democratic lawmakers, including Gabby Giffords of Arizona…. Palin marked each district and Democrat with a set of crosshairs… Palin promoted Republican violence against the Democrats by saying, “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD”.

    On January 8, 2011, U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords and 18 others were shot during a constituent meeting held in a supermarket parking lot in Tuscon, Arizona.. Six people were killed, including federal District Court Chief Judge John Roll; Gabe Zimmerman, one of Giffords’s staffers; and a 9-year-old girl, Christina-Taylor Green… Giffords was holding the meeting, called “Congress on Your Corner”, in the parking lot of a Safeway store when Jared Lee Loughner drew a pistol and shot her in the head before proceeding to fire on other people… News reports identified the target of the attack to be Giffords, a Democrat representing Arizona’s 8th congressional district… She was shot through the head at point-blank range.

  8. ringo muldano says:

    NWK. Great timeline.

    No one can say Dim Tim’s cos connection to China has anything over Hunter’s laptop. Meanwhile, Jarod is bagging $2B from the Saudis? Right out in the open

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