Trump’s grip on GOP remains firm as he tops Michaels Kleefisch in Wisconsin primary showdown


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Former President Donald Trump’s influence over the Republican Party is once again on the line in a key gubernatorial primary, and once again the former president’s endorsed candidate came out on top.

Businessman and former Army Ranger officer Tim Michaels has captured former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to capture the GOP nomination for governor of Wisconsin. Evers is increasingly being targeted by Republicans as he seeks a second term.

“I want to thank President Trump for his support, for this endorsement, it means so much. It’s a tremendous validation of our meteoric rise in this campaign. He knows we need new leadership in Madison,” Michaels, the multimillionaire owner of a construction company who poured millions of his own money into his bid, said Tuesday. He said in his victory speech late at night.

Trump, who will headline a rally in Wisconsin for Michaels on Friday, criticized Kleefisch, a conservative former lieutenant governor who served eight years under Gov. Scott Walker. But the former president took to social media after projecting an AP Michaels victory to force Republican unity after a primary that turned divisive in the final weeks.

Pence-Endorsed Clayfish Edges in Trump-Backed Michaels Wisconsin

Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michaels, left, with former President Donald Trump, right, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022, listening to a rally in Waukesha, Wis. (AP Photo/Mori Gash, File)
(AP Photo/Mori Gash)

“Congratulations to Tim Michaels on his win over an amazing and highly competitive opponent, Rebecca Kleefisch,” Trump wrote. “I know both sides will come together and defeat Tony Evers, one of the worst governors in the country.”

The former president suffered some high-profile gubernatorial losses early in this year’s primary season as candidates he supported were defeated in Idaho, Nebraska and Georgia, where conservative GOP Gov. Brian Kemp defeated Trump-backed former Sen. David Pardew demolishes him.

Trump’s grip on the Republican Party is even stronger after the primary victories

But Trump has been on a roll this summer, endorsing and supporting him winning GOP primaries in Illinois, Maryland, Michigan and Arizona.

“President Trump will drive the Republican vote,” emphasized GOP consultant Rick Wiley — who has held senior roles at the Republican National Committee, the Republican Governors Association and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“This race was a toss-up on Election Day and a Michaels victory demonstrates President Trump’s ability to rally his base and push his candidate across the finish line. It was a tough race, with Rebecca Kleefisch leading in every key battle. Her network has been strong in Wisconsin over the past decade. Trump rallies turnout.” have a huge impact on and we saw that tonight in Wisconsin,” highlighted Wiley, former Wisconsin GOP executive director.

Go to the Fox News Election Center for the latest primary results

The Wisconsin gubernatorial primary turned into a bit of a proxy war between Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence, one-time running mates who could potentially face each other for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Pence recently endorsed Kleefish and traveled to Wisconsin last week to campaign in suburban Milwaukee.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and GOP gubernatorial candidate and former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin Rebecca Kleefisch on August 3, 2022 in Wis.  Participated in a roundtable discussion in Pewaukee (AP Photo/Morry Gasch, File)

Former Vice President Mike Pence and GOP gubernatorial candidate and former lieutenant governor of Wisconsin Rebecca Kleefisch on August 3, 2022 in Wis. Participated in a roundtable discussion in Pewaukee (AP Photo/Morry Gasch, File)
(AP)

Michaels’ win was the second straight victory for a Trump-backed candidate over a Pence-endorsed contender. Pence backed candidate Trump in last week’s GOP gubernatorial primary in Arizona, former TV news anchor Kari Lake, narrowly fringe real estate developer and Arizona Board of Regents member Caryn Taylor Robson.

But in May, Pence expressed his support for Kemp and headlined a rally with the Georgia governor on the eve of Kemp’s landslide victory.

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In addition to Pence, two other potential 2024 GOP White House hopefuls, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former South Carolina governor and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley endorsed Kleefisch this summer. Haley campaigned with the former lieutenant governor and helped with his fundraising.

While Trump once again enjoyed success in the gubernatorial primary, his mission to unseat Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fell short.

President Biden narrowly carried Wisconsin to win the 2020 election, and at his rally on Friday, Trump blasted Voss for not accepting unproven claims that Biden’s loss in 2020 was due to massive voter fraud.

While Vos — the state’s longest-serving Assembly speaker — launched a controversial investigation into the 2020 election in Wisconsin and spearheaded the passage of a series of bills to tighten voting access in the state, she has resisted Trump’s repeated calls to try and deny 2020. Election results.

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Trump, who supported Vos’ Republican challenger Adam Stein in the primary, urged those at the rally to “fire Robin Voss.”

But Voss ended up surviving, edging out Stein by a few percentage points.



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