MADISON, Wis. (NewsNation) — Tim Michels, a wealthy businessman endorsed by former President Donald Trump, won the Republican primary for Wisconsin governor Tuesday, according to Decision Desk HQ’s poll results.
He will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers this upcoming fall in a contest that could reshape elections in the marquee battleground.
Michels defeated former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who was endorsed by former Vice President Mike Pence and had backing from establishment Republicans, including ex-Gov. Scott Walker. This election acted as the latest round in a proxy war between Trump and Pence.
In his victory speech, Michels promised to focus on jobs and the economy and said he would stand up for people who “have been left behind by the Democratic Party that just wants to focus on the social issues.”
“As governor, my number one priority is to take care of the hardworking people of Wisconsin,” Michels said.
Evers’ campaign called Michels “the most extreme and divisive nominee possible, one that will tell Donald Trump anything just to keep his endorsement.”
Both Michels and Kleefisch falsely claimed the 2020 presidential election was rigged, a lie Trump has pushed in an effort to overturn his loss to Joe Biden. Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also roundly rejected by courts, including by judges Trump appointed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.