Election /

Trump-Endorsed Tim Michels Wins Republican Primary, Will Challenge Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

Michels defeated Mike Pence-endorsed Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch

Businessman Tim Michels is the Wisconsin Republican Party’s nominee for governor and will challenge Democratic incumbent, Tony Evers.

Michels is one of three winning candidates in the state who were endorsed by President Donald Trump.

“From day one this race has not been about winning this primary, this race has been about getting proper executive leadership in the governor’s mansion and a great governor who will serve the people of Wisconsin,” Michels told his supporters during his victory speech on Aug. 9. 

He vowed to stand up for the “hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of Wisconsin” including those who feel the Democratic party has “left them for social issues.”

Michels, who co-owns the largest construction company in the state, spent $12 million on his campaign.

With a lead of just over 35,000 votes, Michels defeated Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who he described as a “tremendous candidate.” Kleefisch had been endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence as well as former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. 

Both Michels and Kleefisch said overturning the 2020 election results was not a priority,” reports AP News. “But they said they would dismantle the bipartisan commission that runs Wisconsin elections and would support prohibitions on voters having someone else turn in their absentee ballots, as well as ballot drop boxes located anywhere other than staffed clerk offices.”

Michel’s victory over Kleefisch is an indication of Trump’s sustained influence over Republican voters in the midwest as well as “a sign of the waning sway of the state’s conservative stalwarts of the previous decade,” per WKOW.

In her concession speech, Kleefisch urged her supporters to “stay in the fight” against “Tony Evers and the liberals who want to take away our way of life.”

Evers’ campaign released a statement on Aug. 9 condemning the Republicans’ new gubernatorial nominee. 

“After a scorched earth primary that’s seen constant attacks and a dizzying race to the radical right, the Republican Party has chosen the most extreme and divisive nominee possible, one that will tell Donald Trump anything just to keep his endorsement,” said Tony for Wisconsin Campaign Manager Cassi Fenili.

The campaign called Michels’ positions on abortion, gun regulation, voting rights, and public education “extreme” and harmful to the state.

Evers first took office in 2019. According to a March poll from Marquette University Law School, 50% of voters approved of the job Evers has been doing as governor while 41% disapproved.

In the lead-up to this year’s primaries, Trump endorsed more than 40 candidates across the country.

The former president celebrated Michels’ win in a statement on Truth Social, where he called Kleefisch “a wonderful and highly-competitive opponent.”

“I know both sides will come together and defeat one of the worst Governors in the Country, Tony Evers,” Trump wrote, per The New York Post.

In addition to Michels, three other Trump-nominees won their primaries in Wisconsin – Senator Ron Johnson who was seeking reelection and veteran and hobby farmer Derrick Van Orden who was running for Congress.

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