Pence Makes Endorsement In Contentious Wisconsin Republican Governor Primary
STANFORD, CA - FEB. 17: Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at Stanford University's Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, in Stanford, Calif. The Stanford College Republicans hosted the former vice president in an event titled "How to Save America from the Woke Left."
Santiago Mejia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday announced his endorsement of former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R-WI) in her run for Wisconsin governor. 

Pence’s endorsement puts him at odds with former President Donald Trump, who endorsed construction executive Tim Michels early in June. The two are the front runners in a tightly contested GOP primary on August 9. 

“Rebecca Kleefisch is the only candidate that will deliver a stronger and more prosperous Wisconsin, and I am proud to support her,” Pence said in a statement. “Rebecca has a proven conservative track record and will draw on her experience to give parents more control of their children’s education, grow the economy and get Wisconsin back to work, fight for traditional conservative values, and make Wisconsin streets safer.”

Kleefisch, Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor during former Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s time in Madison, said she was “honored” to have Pence’s endorsement. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has also announced his support for Kleefisch. 

Recent polling has shown Kleefisch and Michels in a tight race, giving Michels a slight edge with many voters still undecided. This week, Trump announced that he would visit Waukesha for a rally on August 5 promoting Michels and the other candidates in the state that he is backing. 

“Tim is an America First Conservative who Supports our Second Amendment, Honors our Brave Law Enforcement and First Responders, and Stands Strongly against the Woke Mob trying to destroy our Country,” Trump said last month. 

Trump added that Michels was the best candidate to provide “meaningful solutions” to Wisconsinites’ problems.

This is not the first time Trump and Pence have split over gubernatorial picks. In Georgia, Trump supported former Senator David Perdue (R-GA) while Pence backed the incumbent Governor Brian Kemp (R-GA), who won in a landslide. Meanwhile in Arizona, former newscaster Kari Lake has been endorsed by Trump, while Pence has thrown his support behind Karrin Taylor Robson. The Arizona GOP primary is on August 2.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (D) brought in $10 million for his re-election campaign this year, while Kleefisch has raised just over $3.6 million. The Michels campaign has raised just under $8 million. Much of Michels’ war chest has come from his own funds.  

On Sunday night, Michels, Kleefisch, and Wisconsin Assembly Member Timothy Ramthun faced off in a GOP primary debate hosted by Marquette University. While Kleefisch said she was the trusted conservative in the race, Michels pointed to his business experience, promising to turn Madison “upside down.”  

The GOP is eager to oust Evers so Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled legislature can advance its agenda without being obstructed by his liberal use of veto power.

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