Madison, Wis. (AP) — Republicans are hoping to retake a crucial gubernatorial seat in swing-state Wisconsin this year, resting on Rebecca Clayfish, a former TV news anchor who served as the successor to former Gov. He had spent eight years in the form and vowed. To continue his sharply conservative policies. Then the owner of a wealthy construction company threw $12 million of his own money into the race and garnered the support of Donald Trump.

Now Tim Mitchell is in a competitive race against Clayfish, going into Tuesday’s primaries to decide who will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.

The contest is part of a deep proxy battle between Trump and his former vice president Mike Pence, who has lent his support to Clayfish. And it could ultimately have implications for 2024, when Trump has jeopardized the prospect of another White House bid and has shown his willingness to pressure elected officials, including those in Wisconsin, to reverse the election results. .

Mitchell has focused on shaping an outside candidate — stronger than Trump’s support — while Clayfish has accepted his establishment support as evidence that he is a more credible GOP alternative.

Trump appeared with Michelle at a Friday night rally in Waukesha, the center of Milwaukee’s conservative suburbs. Trump called Clayfish “a career politician and a political insider.” I have known him for a long time. She is a select candidate for the failed establishment, RINOs. It is a derogatory term for “Republican in name only”.

“Rebecca Klefisch doesn’t have enough strength to beat Tony Evers,” Trump said. “If he runs against Rebecca he’s going to win.”

Michelle appeared on stage with Trump, but did not call for the 2020 election to be overturned.

Both Klefisk and Michels have questioned President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in Wisconsin in 2020 — an outcome that has spurred recounts, lawsuits and reviews — but neither has bucked Trump’s pressure campaign to rescind those results. have taken.

Klefisk called the 2020 election “rigged” but said it would not consider decertification because “it is not constitutionally possible.” Mitchell initially called Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin “not a priority” and then later said “everything will be on the table.”

Both Mitchell and Clayfish want to dismantle the current bipartisan commission that runs elections in the state.

State Representative Tim Ramthune, the third Republican candidate for governor, has repeatedly called for decertification and made it the focus of his longtime campaign.

Biden’s victory in Wisconsin has faced two partial recounts, multiple lawsuits, a non-partisan audit and a review by a conservative law firm. Republican legislative leaders have repeatedly said that decertification is impossible.

Clayfish has garnered support not only from Pence, but also from his former boss Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, GOP leaders in the Legislature, 56 lawmakers, the State Chamber of Commerce, the Tavern League and most of the state’s county sheriffs.

“I’m the one who’s tested and proven and ready to go,” Clayfish said after Pence escorted him to a stop in suburban Milwaukee on Wednesday. “I am the one who has won statewide four times.”

Michels claims he is “not a politician,” but he has been a power player largely behind the scenes for decades and previously ran for the US Senate in 2004, losing to then-Sen. Rus Feingold. He has been a regular donor to Republicans, which include both Walker and Clayfish.

“People want an outsider, people want a veteran, people want a businessman,” Mitchell said in a candidacy debate.

Wisconsin is the third state where Pence and Trump have been on opposite sides in the gubernatorial race that exposed deep divisions about the GOP’s future. In Georgia, Pence-backed Gov. Brian Kemp defeated Trump’s choice, former Sen. David Perdue, by more than 50 percentage points. In the Arizona governor’s primary, former Trump-backed TV news anchor Kari Lake and Pence-backed businessman Karin Taylor Robson were in a race that was too early to take a call on Thursday.

The area that drew Pence and Klefisk on Wednesday is the heart of Republican Wisconsin and home to key suburban Milwaukee voters who will likely decide the fall election. It is also home to clayfish. Trump, whose support in the region waned from 2016 to 2020, held his Friday rally for Michelle just three miles from where Pence had come for the clayfish.

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