Trump-Backed Candidate Wins Wisconsin GOP Governor Primary

Tim Michels will face Tony Evers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2022 12:00 AM CDT
Trump-Backed Candidate Wins Wisconsin GOP Governor Primary
Alain Martinez, of Bellows Falls, smiles when submitting the ballot in the state's primary election, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, in Bellows Falls, Vt.   (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

(Newser) – Tim Michels, a wealthy businessman endorsed by former President Donald Trump, won the Republican primary for Wisconsin governor on Tuesday and will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in a contest that could reshape elections in the marquee battleground, the AP reports. Michels defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and had backing from establishment Republicans, including ex-Gov. Scott Walker. In his victory speech, Michels promised to focus on jobs and the economy and said he would stand up for people who "have been left behind by the Democratic Party that just wants to focus on the social issues.”

“As governor, my number one priority is to take care of the hardworking people of Wisconsin,” Michels said. Evers' campaign called Michels “the most extreme and divisive nominee possible, one that will tell Donald Trump anything just to keep his endorsement." Both Michels and Kleefisch falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged, a lie Trump has pushed in an effort to overturn his loss to Joe Biden. Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed.

Michels said decertifying the results of the 2020 contest was not a priority but said “everything will be on the table.” He supports other changes to voting and elections, including dismantling the bipartisan commission that runs Wisconsin elections. The governor’s race was the latest proxy war between Trump and Pence, one-time partners who have backed opposing candidates in other swing states as they try to push the GOP in different directions. The results Tuesday added to Trump's record of wins, following victories for his preferred candidates last week in closely watched races for governor and Senate in Arizona. (See more Tuesday primary results from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Vermont.)

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