The candid assessment by Rep. Glenn Grothman, who supports Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for president, came during an interview with Milwaukee news station TMJ4
at the Cruz campaign's victory rally Tuesday night.
Asked by reporter Charles Benson why Cruz would be able to turn a reliably Democratic state like Wisconsin red, Grothman said: "Well, I think Hillary Clinton is about the weakest candidate the Democrats have ever put up. And now we have photo ID, and I think photo ID is going to make a little bit of a difference as well."
Grothman pivoted back to praising Cruz and the interview moved on without any follow-up.
Democrats immediately jumped on the remark, citing it as confirmation of their allegations that voter ID laws pushed by Republicans are actually aimed at suppressing turnout, rather than at preventing fraud as advocates argue.
Martha Laning, chairwoman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, seized on the comments in a Facebook post
"Well there it is -- If you can't win Wisconsinite's votes the fair and square way, you impose voter id to gain an advantage so you win," she wrote. "I can't believe this is the Wisconsin I grew up in. A Wisconsin that was fair and transparent and respected every American's right to vote. So sad!"
In 2011, the Wisconsin Legislature -- backed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, also a Cruz supporter -- passed a law requiring voters to show a government-issued ID. The measure, however, faced fierce resistance from activists and civil rights groups in addition to legal challenges that held up its implementation until April of last year.
Walker praised the law Wednesday.
"Huge turnout yesterday shows that photo ID law works just fine. Easy to vote but hard to cheat," he tweeted.
Critics of the laws, which Republicans have advocated in state legislatures around the country, argue they could disenfranchise voters who are less likely to have driver's licenses, such as seniors, students and the poor.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat who served in the Obama administration, also joined the fray.
"Arizona, now Wisconsin. Ridiculously long lines. Too few polling places. New voter ID laws. Our democracy is being stolen. Let people vote," he tweeted Tuesday.
Many Arizona voters were frustrated with long lines during their March primary, prompted by a reduction of available polling places in the state's most populous county in what local officials said was a cost-saving measure.
The Justice Department recently sent a letter of inquiry
to a local election official after lawmakers and activists alleged voter suppression.