Daily Bread for 1.13.23: The Conspiracy Capital of Wisconsin (It’s Not Whitewater)

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 30. Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:44 PM for 9h 21m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 65.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1888, the National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C.

Henry Redman reports Racine at the center of Wisconsin’s election conspiracy universe:

In the two years since the 2020 election, the city of Racine and the surrounding area have become a hotbed of right-wing election-related activism. 

In November of 2021, Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling accused five of the election commission’s six members of committing felony election fraud for choosing not to force voting assistants to go in person to nursing homes to collect absentee ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last year, Schmaling was again involved in a right-wing allegation of election fraud when Racine County resident Harry Wait reached out to the sheriff to alert him of a vulnerability in the state’s online absentee ballot request system. Instead of exposing a flaw, Wait informed Schmaling that he’d illegally requested and received absentee ballots on behalf of Racine’s Democratic Mayor Cory Mason and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). 

Wait is now facing criminal charges for his fraudulent absentee ballot requests. 

The 2020 election was fair and accurate. Numerous reviews, audits, lawsuits and investigations in Wisconsin have affirmed that President Joe Biden won the state and that there was no widespread election fraud. Yet in the more than two years since the 2020 election, complaints of election fraud have come from all over the state. Two of the most vocal lawmakers on the issue, Reps. Janel Brandtjen and Tim Ramthun, came from Waukesha and Fond du Lac counties. Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s widely derided review of the 2020 election was based in Brookfield. 

But the Racine area has seen election-related right-wing activism persist past the 2022 midterms with a fervor that other parts of the state have not been able to sustain as attention has shifted to other issues.


“So there’s a local group here that’s very active, Harry Wait being one of their leaders who’ve really been pretty steadfast in their critique of the work that the city does to make sure that people have access to the polls,” Mason says. “So I think that’s what’s different. I think there’s a group here that’s radicalized in a way that we’re not seeing in other parts of the state.”

Whitewater has her share of conspiracy-minded populists, convinced of one lunatic notion or another, but not so many as Racine. If we’d educated our people better, and so fortified them against nonsense, we’d have a healthier and more prosperous city. We didn’t, as it was momentarily easier to pretend that all was well, and to avoid refuting ignorant-but-easily-offended conspiracy theorists, so now we’ve a years-long problem of recovery ahead of us. 

There is nothing that scares Whitewater community leaders and our school administrators into acquiescence so much as an edgy, ignorant man in a red trucker cap.  See (Local) Fear of a Red Hat

 Scientists record world’s largest hatching of baby turtles in South America:

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