Michels Wins Wisconsin GOP Gov. Primary; Trump's Endorsements Sweep 6-0 Wisconsin GOP Gov.-nominee Tim Michels (Morry Gash/AP)
By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 09 August 2022 11:59 PM EDT
Completing a sweep of the gubernatorial and congressional endorsements of former President Donald Trump, Tim Michels has won the coveted Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday night, Decision Desk HQ projected.
DDHQ made the call in the hotly contested race at 11:37 p.m. ET, giving Trump a 6-0 sweep of his primary endorsements on the night.
"Congratulations to Tim Michels on his win against a wonderful and highly competitive opponent, Rebecca Kleefisch," Trump wrote Tuesday night on Truth Social. "I know both sides will come together and defeat one of the worst governors in the country, Tony Evers."
It was a proxy battle between Trump's endorsement and that of former Vice President Mike Pence's chosen candidate in the race.
Trump endorsed Michels, a business man and self-described outsider who has put $12 million into his own campaign, against former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who had support of Pence and former Gov. Scott Walker. Both candidates claim 2020 election was rigged, but Kleefisch has said decertifying the results is "not constitutional," while Michels said "everything will be on the table."
Michels will face Democrat Gov. Tony Evers in November's general election.
State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who has rejected the former president's pressure to decertify the 2020 results, also won her primary.
Tuesday's outcomes have far-reaching consequences beyond Wisconsin, a state that is almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and where 2022 will be seen as a bellwether for the 2024 presidential race. The person elected governor this fall will be in office for the presidential election and will be able to sign or veto changes to election laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The next governor and U.S. senator also may sway decisions on issues from abortion to education and taxes.
Both Michels and Kleefisch have said overturning the 2020 election results is not a priority. But they have 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.
Evers has made voting and elections a focus of his own campaign, telling voters he is the only candidate who will defend democracy and "we are that close to not having our vote count in the state of Wisconsin."
Michels is co-owner of Wisconsin's largest construction company and has touted his work to build his family's business.
At a rally on Friday, Trump praised Michels as an "incredible success story." He criticized Kleefisch as part of the "failed establishment" and also took aim at Vos.
Michels pledged "we are going to have election integrity here in Wisconsin." He also said he will bring "law and order" back to Wisconsin, criticized Evers' handling of schools and blamed Biden for rising prices.
Franklin Szpot, 42, voted for Michels. He said he appreciated Michels is a business owner and served in the U.S. Army. Szpot also liked the candidate's "to the point" commercials.
"It just seems like he is a no-nonsense kind of guy and that's the kind of person we need in office right now," he said.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.