Michels wins GOP gubernatorial nomination, will face incumbent Gov. Evers

Michels rallying in Waukesha
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 10:39 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 12:05 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Tim Michels secured the Republican nod to face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in the general election, unofficial results from the Associated Press indicate.

In his victory speech, Michels said the race will be about “standing up for the hardworking people of Wisconsin. They have been left behind by the Democratic Party that just wants to focus on the social issues.” He promised to focus on jobs and the economy.

“I will never compromise my conservative principles but there are so many people in Wisconsin feeling left behind,” Michels said. “They are victims of crime, victims of awful education. We will work together—we are going to make so many improvements in this state and I pledge to do that. I give you my oath just like I took my oath when I went in the army. I swear to uphold and defend the people of Wisconsin.”

Gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch conceded just minutes before the call was made.

Gov. Tony Evers’ Campaign Manager Cassi Fenili criticized the call for Michels, describing him as “the most extreme and divisive nominee possible.”

“While Tim Michels wants to divide our communities, Gov. Evers is committed to bringing people together and working to address rising costs, help small businesses, expand high-speed internet, and give our kids the education they need to thrive,” Fenili said. “There’s a lot at stake this November, and Gov. Evers will always do the right thing for our state.”

AP calls Tim Michels for GOP primary winner.
AP calls Tim Michels for GOP primary winner.(WTMJ)

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. Michels said decertifying the results of the 2020 contest was not a priority but said “everything will be on the table.” He supports other changes to voting and elections, including dismantling the bipartisan commission that runs Wisconsin elections.

The governor’s race was the latest proxy war between Trump and Pence, one-time partners who have backed opposing candidates in other swing states as they try to push the GOP in different directions.

His team says the governor’s office will not change who Michels is.

“Being governor does not mean you’re a politician, it means you are governor,” said Senior Campaign Adviser Chris Walker. “The governorship is not going to change him, he knows who he is, he knows why he is there. He is going to approach the governorship the same way he’s approached being a business leader to Michels corporation- leading, bringing people together solving big issues and tackling them on behalf of the people of Wisconsin.”

Michels cast his vote Tuesday morning in the Village of Chenequa in Waukesha County. Until the polls close, Michels’ campaign said he will be making calls to still-undecided voters.

Michels is co-owner of Michels Corp., the state’s largest construction company.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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