Michels wins Republican primary for Wisconsin governor, will face Evers in November

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 1:14 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2022 at 11:53 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Donald Trump-endorsed businessman Tim Michels won the Republican nomination for Wisconsin governor Tuesday, beating out former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch in the primary.

“Thanks to you, we took on the Madison Establishment and won,” said Michels. “Tonight we celebrate, but then, first thing tomorrow, let’s get to work.”

Opponent Rebecca Kleefisch conceded the race before Michels gave his victory speech in Waukesha.

He blamed Democrats for inflation and high gas prices and harkened back to Evers’ response to COVID-19 protocols.

“From COVID to Kenosha, Tony Evers has failed our state. Riots and lawlessness, and murder and assault are all at 30-year highs. The state’s economy has forced people to have to choose between filling up their tank and paying their rent. His support of radical, green-new deal style policies have led to higher prices at the pump and higher prices for everything from food to clothing. The state suffers from an education bureaucracy that puts the interests of unions before kids and parents and it has an election commission that willfully ignores the law. The state has failed to fulfill the promise we have made to our veterans. Perhaps most egregiously, Wisconsin under Tony Evers had a government that shut down schools and churches, forced mask and vaccine mandates, and deemed many workers non-essential. “In November, Wisconsin is going to tell Tony Evers he is non-essential,” said Michels.

Evers struck back, calling Michels “divisive” and “extreme.”

“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. From abortion and voting rights, to gun safety and public education — Tim Michels has staked out the most extreme positions possible, with the goal of dividing our state and pitting neighbors against one another. Tim Michels wants to enforce an abortion ban from 1849 that has no exceptions for rape or incest, and he’s previously said it’s ‘not unreasonable’ for a rape victim to be forced to give birth. Michels has said he’s open to overturning election results if he doesn’t like the outcome, he’s come out against common sense gun safety legislation that would protect our kids, and Michels has even said it was ‘insanity’ to invest more money in our public schools,” reads a statement from the Evers Campaign.

“While Tim Michels wants to divide our communities, Gov. Evers is committed to bringing people together and working to address rising costs, help small businesses, expand high-speed internet, and give our kids the education they need to thrive. There’s a lot at stake this November, and Gov. Evers will always do the right thing for our state.”

Michels and Kleefisch made public appearances while voting Tuesday.

Michels was asked about the first thing he would do if he were to become governor.

“Election integrity, absolutely, when I took that oath of office I swear to uphold and defend the constitution, that was a life-long commitment, we are going to have election integrity here in Wisconsin,” Michels said. “Ballots are sacred, and we should not have people asking 21 months after election was the election fixed.”

Last week, former President Donald Trump held a rally with Michels to endorse the businessman for governor. Trump criticized Kleefisch, calling her a “Republican in Name Only” and part of the establishment. Trump referenced Kleefisch’s husband, lobbyist Joel Kleefisch.

“She’s the handpicked candidate of the failed establishment, the RINOs and the Washington swamp,” Trump said. “Kleefisch complains about lobbyists, but her husband is one of the biggest lobbyists in a place called Madison.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence endorsed Kleefisch.

An Emerson College Poll shows 39 percent of Republican voters in Wisconsin say Trump’s endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate. Eleven percent are less likely to support a candidate with Trump’s endorsement. Forty-nine percent say it makes no difference.

The race came a day after the FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. Michels and Kleefisch defended Trump and criticized the FBI and Department of Justice.

“First 87,000 new IRS agents, now this? The FBI’s raid this afternoon seems more like a political witch hunt than anything else. Republicans in Wisconsin are far too familiar with overzealous prosecutors. Elections have consequences. Vote,” Michels tweeted.

“The actions from the FBI are shocking and unprecedented. The American people deserve full transparency. We have seen too many politically motivated attacks in the past. I continue to keep President Trump and his family in my thoughts,” Kleefisch tweeted.

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