Republican Tim Michels, a construction executive President Trump endorsed, won the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial nomination after a crucial primary in one of the country’s most vulnerable states.
Michels defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, whose supporters included former Vice President Mike Pence and former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
With 90 percent of the vote reporting, Michels led Kleefisch by nearly five points (47.1 percent to 42.2 percent).
Michels declared victory after midnight on Wednesday, tweeting, “Tonight we celebrate, but tomorrow we get to work. Thank you Wisconsin!”
Kleefisch conceded the race and urged supporters to support Michels, saying “the fight is truly against Tony Evers.”
In November, Michels will face incumbent Democrat Gov. Tony Evers, one of the country’s most vulnerable governors. Evers was elected in 2018 after narrowly defeating then-Gov. Scott Walker.
Evers published a campaign video on his Twitter immediately after Michels’s victory over Kleefisch, telling supporters, “Tim Michels wants to take us back to the 19th century.”
If Republicans pick up the governorship of Wisconsin, the battleground state will likely begin implementing measures designed to secure election integrity. Michels, whom Trump endorsed partly to “end the well-documented Fraud in our Elections,” has indicated that the decertification of the state’s 2020 presidential election results might “be on the table.”
Michels’s victory proves to be yet another loss for the establishment in their endorsement proxy war with President Trump. His endorsements have been influential in determining who crosses the finish line, as 83 percent of Trump-backed gubernatorial candidates have won their primaries since the midterms began in March.
Democrats are also at a disadvantage in Wisconsin. Joe Biden, whose win in the state has recently been called into question by officials, has not had an approval rating above 40 percent in the state since October 2021, according to a poll by Civiqs.
Republican enthusiasm for the election also surpassed that of the Democrats, according to a June poll by Marquette. According to the survey, 67 percent of Wisconsin Republicans were very enthusiastic about voting in the election, while 58 percent of Democrats were very enthusiastic about voting.
The disdain for Joe Biden, enthusiasm for Republicans, and the influence of President Trump may turn the tides in Wisconsin and put control back in the hands of the state’s conservatives.