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Even Trump’s Biggest Fans in Congress Are Tired of This One 2020 Revenge Campaign

As conservative activists in Wisconsin push to recall the state House speaker, Wisconsin Republican lawmakers say enough is enough.

Robin Vos
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is facing a recall effort. Andy Manis/AP

Congressional Republicans from Wisconsin are in agreement: Conservative activists’ efforts are wasting time and resources trying to oust the state’s Republican assembly speaker, Robin Vos, for not being loyal enough to Donald Trump.

“Every minute that someone spends trying to recall Robin Vos is a minute they can’t spend trying to get President Trump reelected,” said Rep. Derrick Van Orden, who marched to the Capitol on Jan. 6 in support of Trump. “I don’t think it’s a good use of time. I don’t think it’s a good use of money.”

The group Recall Vos said this week that it filed signatures from more than 10,000 voters. On Tuesday, however, the state’s election commission said an initial review indicated the activists did not gather enough signatures in the district where Vos was last elected to trigger a recall election. The review is ongoing.

“If they’re true Republicans and want to get more Republicans elected, then they should be working to help in that effort. Not recall the speaker,” said Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, who worked with Vos for years in the Wisconsin legislature and said they were “very good friends.”

Fitzgerald and Van Orden have both endorsed Trump.

The recall effort is the culmination of a brewing frustration with Vos, the longest-serving state House speaker, among the state’s most fervent Trump voters. Conservative organizers have targeted Vos over his refusal to decertify the 2020 election results and how he handled Trump’s claims of election fraud.

While these years-old gripes remain front of mind for conservative activists in the state, even Trump’s biggest fans in the Wisconsin delegation in Washington are losing patience.

“It’s really important that we pull together because if President Trump wins Wisconsin, then we win the presidency,” said Rep. Tom Tiffany, who also endorsed Trump. He worked with Vos in a previous stint in state government and said they had a “good relationship.”

“Robin Vos came out supporting President Trump after Super Tuesday. So what else do you want, for him to get a Trump tattoo on his chest or something?” Van Orden said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Johnson had a more conspiratorial take on the recall effort: “I’m hearing the signatures collected were collected in large part by Democratic operatives,” he told NOTUS without elaborating.

Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state withstood two partial recounts, independent audits and innumerable lawsuits. Vos pushed back against Trump’s attempts to have the legislature decertify the results themselves, saying it would be unconstitutional. Vos also brushed off pressure to impeach the leader of the state’s elections commission despite Trump’s urging.

In 2021, Trump said Vos and some of his colleagues were “working hard to cover up election corruption.” Vos, in response, launched another review of the election, hiring conservative former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman as special counsel.

Gableman spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating the 2020 election, ultimately producing no evidence of widespread fraud. His investigation came under intense scrutiny for transparency issues and allegedly breaking record-keeping laws. He also faced multiple lawsuits costing over a million dollars in legal fees. Vos ultimately fired Gableman, who endorsed Vos’ Trump-backed primary opponent.

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In late 2022, Vos said he would “try as hard as I can to make sure Donald Trump is not the nominee” in 2024. But on March 6, he hinted that he may vote for the former president in November, reposting a post on X that backed Trump as a “second choice.”

Sometimes “people have sharp disagreements, and they voiced them publicly, and that has gone on for a long time. Then when people find that they have some interests that align, then they’re back together. I believe the same thing can happen here,” Tiffany said of Vos.

The recall effort shows no signs of backing down yet. In an unsigned statement, organizers told the AP they look forward to challenging the rejection of any submitted signatures.

Nuha Dolby is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.