Candidates for Wisconsin governor answer voters’ questions in town hall, hope to sway votes

The Republican candidates in the August 9 primary discussed taxes, inflation, and the 2024 presidential election
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 5:21 PM CDT
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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WBAY) - The race for governor on the Republican side of the ticket might be clearer for voters after the top three candidates participated in a town hall-style debate Monday. The event comes a week and a day before the state’s partisan primary on August 9.

Recent polling shows about a third of Republicans are still undecided, so Monday night was a chance for the candidates -- former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Tim Michels, and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun -- to move the needle. (WBAY-TV will rebroadcast the debate Saturday, August 6, at 4:30 P.M.)

Just like last week’s debate at Marquette University, most of the personal attacks were directed at Democrat Tony Evers, who’s seeking a second term as governor.

Kleefisch, Michels and Ramthun all took questions from audience members.

Michels was endorsed by former President Donald Trump while his vice president, Mike Pence, endorsed Kleefisch. That led to a question from one person, asking whether any of the candidates would support Trump if he runs for president in 2024 or if he should be held responsible for the Capitol riot.

“I want to serve like President Trump did,” said Michels. “He wanted to drain the swamp, but we found out it’s a very large swamp. Now, 2024? I’m focused on this election right now. I have made no commitments to any candidates in 2024.”

“As far as 2024 goes, I can commit to you that I will support the Republican nominee, and it looks like we have an assortment to choose from,” Kleefisch said. “Most important to me is that we retire Joe Biden.”

“Whether there’s 3, 13, or 30 people running for president, if he throws his hat in the ring he’s going to have to go through that process again, and to be honest with you I’m not exactly sure where the nation is right now with whether or not they would vote for him,” Ramthun said.

Another voter asked about inflation and what each candidate would do to keep prices somewhat stable, highlighting the struggle many families are now facing.

“One of the first things is petroleum,” Ramthun answered, “because it affects all of the other things, the supply chain issues. The trucking industry is hurt bad as well. So that would be the first thing I’d push for -- bring the governors together and head to D.C. and get the costs down, and then things will start rolling and then we’ll have more to address after that.”

“I think the best thing we can do for the people of Wisconsin directly as the governor is to lower taxes,” Michels said. “And I’m putting all the taxes on the table. We’re going to look at everything from income tax to sales tax, personal property tax, all of these, and we’re going to figure out how we can lower taxes in Wisconsin.”

“The first thing you’ve got to do is massive welfare reform to get people, and get people into the economy, thereby addressing the worker crisis, the shortage of workers that leads to unaffordability and your supply chain crisis that also leads to unaffordability,” Kleefisch answered.

Each candidate also said they will abide by whatever the vote is a week from Tuesday and endorse the winner.

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Jason Zimmerman talks about Monday's town hall forum and how this final week of the primary campaign will look

Kleefisch plans to hold a rally Tuesday night in Green Bay with former Governor Scott Walker.

The last debate was relatively mild in the way of personal attacks, which hasn’t been the case throughout this campaign. Some of the big issues focused on were inflation, taxes, and Second Amendment rights. Here’s some of what the candidates had to say on the issue of abortion at last week’s debate:

Kleefisch: “Being Pro-Life means being pro-women and pro-baby, and as governor I’m going to make sure that we treat moms with unexpected pregnancies with empathy and compassion.”

Michels: “Here’s the problem right now: We have so many pro-abortion zealots that are just screaming in their ear, ‘You have to abort the baby.’ Let’s give them all the options, all the solutions that are out there.”

Ramthun: “The other thing I think we need to really emphasize is adoption. Adoption is the option, and we have to trim down the bureaucracy on that process, trim down the cost.”

It's 8 days since their last debate and 8 days until the primary election

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