Trump endorses Michels in GOP primary for Wisconsin gubernatorial race

MADISON, Wis. — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Tim Michels in his bid to become Wisconsin’s next governor.

In a statement Thursday, Trump called Michels “a very successful businessman” and gave his “Complete and Total Endorsement” to Michels’ candidacy.

“Wisconsin needs a Governor who will Stop Inflation, Uphold the Rule of Law, strengthen our Borders (we had the strongest borders in history just two years ago, now we have the weakest!) and End the well-documented Fraud in our Elections,” Trump wrote. “Tim Michels is the best candidate to deliver meaningful solutions to these problems, and he will produce jobs like no one else can even imagine. Tim is an America First Conservative who Supports our Second Amendment, Honors our Brave Law Enforcement and First Responders, and Stands Strongly against the Woke Mob trying to destroy our Country.”

Michels became the fourth high-profile Republican to enter the race in April after former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson and current state Rep. Tim Ramthun.

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In a statement, he called the former president’s endorsement “a tremendous boost to our efforts and a continuation of our astounding surge since I entered the race.”

All four candidates had been vying for Trump’s endorsement. In the wake of the Pennsylvania gubernatorial primary, which saw Trump’s endorsed candidate win, UW-Madison political science professor Barry Burden said a Trump endorsement in Wisconsin could make the difference in a tight race.

“[Trump’s] magic has not worked in every race,” he said, “but there are at least some high profile races where it looks like his clear backing of a candidate can help elevate that candidate or distinguish them from other Republicans who are also trying to cozy up to the Trump coalition but don’t have his formal blessing.”

Kleefisch also issued a statement Thursday evening, saying in part, “If I know one thing about President Trump, it’s that he likes winners, and I’m the only person in this race who has won statewide — not once, but four times.”

Across the aisle, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler said regardless of who Trump endorsed or who wins the primary election, the Republican nominee “will be too extreme for Wisconsin.”

“Donald Trump’s endorsement in the Wisconsin GOP primary only deepens the alarming division and extremism of the Wisconsin Republican Party,” Wikler said in a statement. “Tim Michels now joins David Perdue, Doug Mastriano, and Herschel Walker in the dubious club of ultra-MAGA candidates who’ve passed Trump’s radical litmus test despite their profound flaws as candidates. Tim Michels has been now given the green light to hit the accelerator on the campaign he was already running — one that embraces election conspiracy theories and divisive policies like banning abortions without exceptions, instituting a ban on same-sex marriage, and defunding public education.”

Thursday’s announcement comes nearly two weeks after Wisconsin’s Republican party did not endorse a candidate in the race for the state’s highest office. Only Kleefisch and Ramthun made it to a final ballot to potentially earn the party’s nod.

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The Republican who comes out on top in the Aug. 9 primary election will take on incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the general election in November.