MADISON, Wis. – On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump’s influence on voters in the GOP swing state will be tested again. This time in Wisconsin where the former president has backed candidates who oppose him squarely to the establishment of the Republican Party.
In Wisconsin gubernatorial primary, Trump endorsed construction manager Tim Michel more Rebecca Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker for eight years. Walker has campaigned aggressively for Kleefisch, who is also backed by the former vice president Mike Pence.
Trump’s endorsement of Michels At the beginning of June upended the gubernatorial race, giving Michels’ campaign a boost about a month after he entered the race. Michels has spent millions of his own money on a TV ad blitz, describing himself as a businessman and an ‘outsider’ who wants to upset the government, echoing messages used by Trump during his run for president in 2016.
Trump also backed Republican Adam Steen in his primary campaign. against Robin Vosthe powerful Wisconsin Assembly Speaker who angered Trump over his refusal to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in the state, a move election law experts say is legal impossible.
Trump’s Risky Mentions
Trump’s wins in both races could help him claim the Wisconsin GOP ahead of his presumptive 2024 presidential campaign. But Anthony Chergosky, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, says Trump’s two candidates could very well probably lose.
“I wonder if Donald Trump fully understands what he’s getting into,” Chergosky said.
Michels didn’t go as far as Trump in how he portrays the 2020 presidential election, but he cast doubt on Biden’s victory in Wisconsin, which was confirmed by a canvas at the statewide, a partial recount, and several state and federal courts. the decisions. When asked during a recent debate if he would sign legislation that would “undo” Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin, Michels kept his options open.
“Everything will be on the table,” Michels said. “I will make the right decision.”
Kleefisch, who said the 2020 election was “rigged,” was nonetheless the only GOP candidate for Wisconsin governor to reject the idea that the race result could be overturned.
“It’s not constitutionally possible,” Kleefisch said during the same debate. “There is no way to decertify an election that has already taken place.”
Other factors reportedly weighed in on Trump’s endorsement decision. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Trump was angered by a photo Kleefisch posted on Twitter of his teenage daughter going home with the son of a state Supreme Court justice who ruled against Trump in several election lawsuits nearly 20 years ago two years.
Trump’s push to void the election was certainly central to his decision to endorse Steen, a political unknown until recently, over Vos, the most powerful Republican in the legislature who has set the GOP agenda in Wisconsin for over a decade.
“Adam Steen is running to defeat your President RINO of the House, Robin Vos,” Trump said at a Friday rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin, referring to the acronym for “Republican in name only.”
Chergosky says the races largely reflect the battle for power within the GOP, both in Wisconsin and nationally. “You have kind of an early 2010s version of the Republican Party on one side, and you have the Donald Trump version of the Republican Party on the other side.”
The primary also presents a geographic divide, Chergosky says, in the GOP between the suburbs — where Kleefisch draws its strongest support — and the rural areas that have been key to the Trump coalition.
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Facing Evers in November
The winner will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November in a race that public polls and recent Wisconsin history show will be close. Evers beat Walker by just over a percentage point in 2018 and has spent most of the past four years at odds with Republicans who have large majorities in the state legislature, opposing more bills. law in a single session than any governor in Wisconsin history.
When Trump visited Wisconsin last week, Evers’ campaign released a statement attacking both Michels and Kleefisch, another sign the race could go either way.
“Every Republican primary candidate is too extreme for our state and would sign dangerous bills that would undermine our democracy,” Evers campaign spokesman Sam Roecker said. “Governor Evers is focused on doing the right thing for our state and bringing people together to solve real problems.”