Kleefisch downplays Trump endorsement on final swing
Republican candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch is downplaying Donald Trump’s endorsement and rally for her opponent on a final campaign push across Wisconsin, declining to respond to the former president’s criticisms of her
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch downplayed Donald Trump’s endorsement and rally for her opponent on a final campaign push across Wisconsin Monday, declining to respond to the former president’s criticisms of her.
Kleefisch faces Trump-endorsed Tim Michels in Tuesday's primary, with the winner advancing to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Trump derided Kleefisch as “a career politician and a political insider" during a rally for Michels in suburban Milwaukee on Friday night. He called her the “handpicked candidate of the failed establishment.”
When asked at an early morning campaign stop Monday whether she had any comment on Trump's criticisms, Kleefisch responded: “No thoughts that I can share.”
Kleefisch, a former two-term lieutenant governor, also downplayed the Trump endorsement, saying she didn't know whether it would help or hurt Michels with primary voters. Michels co-owns the state's largest construction company, Michels Corp.
“To me, the only endorsements that are going to matter, ultimately, are the ones that are counted tomorrow night from the people of Wisconsin,” Kleefisch said. She is backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, who campaigned for her in Wisconsin last week, GOP legislative leaders and a majority of county sheriffs.
Both Kleefisch and Michels say decertifying the 2020 presidential election won by President Joe Biden in Wisconsin is not a priority.
Michels was spending the day before the election attending a private event for cancer research, attending the Wisconsin State Fair in the afternoon, then hosting a rally with supporters in Delafield. Kleefisch was traveling across the state, with multiple stops before ending in Brookfield, close to where Michels will be, in suburban Milwaukee's Waukesha County.
One of Kleefisch's backers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, is being challenged by Trump-backed candidate Adam Steen. He wants to decertify the 2020 election, while Vos opposes it because it is unconstitutional. Trump at his Friday rally announced that the former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice hired by Vos to investigate the election was backing Steen.
Michael Gableman recorded a robocall in support of Steen, saying Vos “never wanted a real investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin.” Taxpayers have been more than $1.1 million on Gableman's investigation. He was paid $11,000 a month by taxpayers under the contract Vos signed.
“Justice Gableman knows overturning the election is both unconstitutional and impossible," Vos said in a statement. "His attempts to lie to voters and gain favor with Adam Steen are sad and show how desperate he is to remain relevant.”
WisPolitics.com first reported on Gableman's robocall.
Also on the ballot Tuesday, Democrats will be picking their nominee for U.S. Senate to take on Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes has emerged as the clear frontrunner after his top opponents dropped out and endorsed him. There are also primaries for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer and attorney general on the Republican side.