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Trump-backed Tim Michels wins Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary

Former President Donald Trump scored another proxy victory over former Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday, as the onetime commander-in-chief’s pick won Wisconsin’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

Trump threw his support behind Tim Michels, a construction magnate who sank $12 million into his own campaign, while Pence endorsed Rebecca Kleefisch, the former lieutenant governor who served under ex-GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Michels had a 47% to 43% lead over Kleefisch by the time the Associated Press called the race at 10:35 p.m. local time.

Both gubernatorial hopefuls backed Trump’s assertion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen due to voter fraud, but Kleefisch has said decertifying the results was “not constitutional,” while Michels said “everything is on the table.”

President Biden narrowly defeated Trump in Wisconsin two years ago by a little more than 20,000 votes, but the former president has insisted that the results should be decertified. 

Former President Trump threw his support behind Tim Michels, a construction magnate who sank $12 million into his own campaign.
AP Photo/Morry Gash
FILE - Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels, left, speaks as former President Donald Trump, right, listens at a rally in Waukesha, Wis., on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Republican candidate for Wiscon
Michels also backed Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
AP

Michels, who appeared with Trump at a rally in Waukesha last week, has said he wants to get rid of the state’s election commission – a position also supported by Kleefisch.

“I am going to get election integrity back in Wisconsin. We are going to stop the ‘Zuckerbucks,’ out-of-state billionaires coming into our state and taking control of our election process. It won’t happen anymore,” Michels said.

Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor Rebecca Kleefisch had her name frequently tied to former Vice President Mike Pence.
Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor Rebecca Kleefisch had her name frequently tied to former Vice President Mike Pence.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
MADISON, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 08: Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch speaks to supporters during a campaign event at Kavanaugh's Esquire Club on August 08, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin
Kleefisch has said decertifying the 2020 presidential election results was “not constitutional.”
Getty Images

At a campaign appearance on Monday, Kleefisch downplayed Trump’s backing of her opponent.

“To me, the only endorsements that are going to matter, ultimately, are the ones that are counted tomorrow night from the people of Wisconsin,” ​she said.​

Michels and Kleefisch have been neck-and-neck in recent polls, with the winner taking on incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November. ​

Trump and Pence also backed opposing GOP gubernatorial candidates in Arizona — where Trump pick Kari Lake won the primary — and Georgia, where Pence’s choice of incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp won in a blowout over Trump-backed former Sen. David Perdue.

With Post wires

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