Evers has made voting and elections a focus of his own campaign, telling voters he’s the only candidate who will defend democracy and “we are that close to not having our vote count in the state of Wisconsin.”
Kleefisch is a former TV reporter who served with Walker for two terms, including when he effectively ended collective bargaining for most public employees in the state in 2011, drawing huge protests and a failed recall attempt. She says she is the best prepared to win statewide in November and to enact conservative priorities, including investing more in police, expanding school choice programs and implementing a flat income tax.
During a campaign stop with Kleefisch last week, Pence said no other gubernatorial candidate in the U.S. is “more capable, more experienced, or a more proven conservative.”
Michels is co-owner of Wisconsin’s largest construction company and has touted his work to build his family’s business. He lost the 2004 Senate race to Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, and has been a major donor to GOP politicians.
At a rally on Friday, Trump praised Michels as an “incredible success story.” He criticized Kleefisch as part of the “failed establishment” and also took aim at Vos. He told supporters that Michels will win the primary “easily” and that he’s the better choice to defeat Evers.
Michels pledged that “we are going to have election integrity here in Wisconsin.” He also said he will bring “law and order” back to Wisconsin, criticized Evers’ handling of schools and blamed Biden for rising prices.
Ramthun, whose gubernatorial bid is widely considered a longshot, and has made rescinding Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes for Biden the centerpiece of his campaign. Biden’s margin in the Electoral College was 306-232. He won the nationwide popular vote by a margin of more than 7 million.
In the Senate race, Barnes is the overwhelming favorite after rivals including Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry quit the race . A Milwaukee native and former state legislator who would be Wisconsin’s first Black senator, Barnes says he wants to help rebuild the middle class and protect abortion rights. A state ban on abortion took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
The race against Johnson is one of a few Senate toss-ups and already has been a fight between Barnes and Johnson, a millionaire and former owner of a plastics company who was first elected as part of the tea party movement in 2010.Barnes has attacked Johnson for supporting a tax bill that benefitted wealthy donors and his own company, touting “wild conspiracy theories” about COVID-19 vaccines and for trying to deliver ballots from fake GOP electors to Pence on the day of the Capitol insurrection.
Johnson and Republicans have criticized Barnes as too liberal for Wisconsin, noting his endorsements from progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. They have resurfaced moments from Barnes’s past, including a photo of him holding a T-shirt that reads “Abolish ICE,” apparently referencing the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Trump and Pence have split on gubernatorial candidates with mixed results. In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp — he also rejected Trump’s pressure to overturn his 2020 loss — had Pence’s support as he defeated a Trump-endorsed challenger, former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. But Kari Lake won the Arizona primary last week with Trump’s backing, defeating a Pence-backed candidate after saying she would not have certified Biden’s victory there.
The candidate Trump endorsed to take on Speaker Vos, Adam Steen, has said he would decertify Biden’s victory in Wisconsin some 20 months ago.
Capitol Report (April 2016): Wisconsin primary may not be Trump’s Waterloo, but the state is worth watching