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Republican voters in Wisconsin head to the polls on Tuesday to choose their gubernatorial nominee to take on incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers in what is expected to be a tightly contested race.
Polls from the Badger State indicate that the nomination will likely go to former Wisconsin Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch or construction executive Tim Michels. Two polls released in the last week show the difference in support between the two candidates within the margin of error.
An August poll of likely Republican voters from Trafalgar showed Michels with a razor-thin lead, taking 43.8% to Kleefisch’s 43.4%. State Assemblyman Tim Ramthun came in third with 7.5% of the vote.
Another poll of Republican primary voters from Emerson College had Kleefisch with 36%, Michels with 34%, Ramthun with 8%, and 14% undecided. With such a close margin between the top two candidates, those undecided voters will likely determine the outcome of the race.
“There is a clear regional divide for Wisconsin Republican voters,” said Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling. “Kleefisch holds a 21-point lead over Michels among suburban Wisconsin voters, whereas Michels has a similar margin over Kleefisch among rural voters, leading by 15 points.”
On Tuesday, Michels referenced the raid of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in his pitch to voters on Twitter.
“We woke up this morning to stakes even higher than we ever thought. Do we want a government of the people or a government targeting the people? Your vote today is the first step in fighting back. That’s what I just did,” he said.
Kleefisch pointed voters to a directory about finding their polling place and urged them to cast their ballots for her.
“It’s Election Day and I’m asking for your vote! Head to the polls, cast your ballot, and remind your friends and family to vote Rebecca for Governor,” she tweeted.
The race will also test the endorsement power of former President Trump, who is backing Michels. At a rally in Waukesha on Friday, Trump said Kleefisch was the “handpicked candidate of the failed establishment, the RINOs, the Washington swamp.”
Michels has positioned himself as the outsider candidate, earlier this year introducing a plan to “Drain the Madison Swamp” and promising to turn the state’s capital city “upside down.”
Kleefisch has been backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and former Governor Scott Walker (R-WI). She has pointed to her experience and work with Walker saying that she is the trusted conservative candidate.
“There is no candidate for governor in America that is more capable, more experienced or a more proven conservative than Rebecca Kleefisch,” Pence said last week.
Ramthun, who has garnered endorsements from businessman Mike Lindell and the group Pro-Life Wisconsin, has made election integrity the top issue of his campaign.
The winner of the Republican nomination will take on Evers in November.
Wisconsin voters will also choose their nominees for Senate, though those races have effectively been determined. Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes (D-WI) has seen Democrat support consolidate around him as his major rivals have all dropped out and now support his campaign. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is also on the ballot and expected to easily claim the Republican nomination in his race for a third term.