Pence endorses Kleefisch for Wisconsin governorship, breaking with Trump


MADISON, Wis. – Former President Donald Trump and his vice president clashed again in a Republican primary for governor, this time in Wisconsin.

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday endorsed former Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch for the governorship. He backed her up a day after Trump announced he would hold a rally in suburban Milwaukee next week for Tim Michels, a construction executive who is funding his campaign with his personal fortune.

The situation mirrors that unfolding in Arizona, where Trump and Pence held public events Friday in support of rival gubernatorial candidates. In the spring, the former president and former vice president lined up behind various candidates in Georgia’s gubernatorial race.

“Rebecca Kleefisch is the only candidate who will deliver a stronger, more prosperous Wisconsin, and I’m proud to support her,” Pence said in a written statement released by Kleefisch’s campaign.

Kleefisch, Michels and State Rep. Tim Ramthun face off in the Aug. 9 primary in Wisconsin. The winner will face Governor Tony Evers (D) in November.

Trump endorsed Michels last month, arguing he would stop inflation, secure the border and crack down on voter fraud. Trump has remained obsessed with his 2020 loss to Joe Biden, who beat him in Wisconsin by an estimated 21,000 out of 3.3 million votes.

Both Kleefisch and Michels said they would adopt new voting rules if elected, but they did not support efforts to try to decertify the 2020 results. Kleefisch said it was impossible to cancel the 2020 elections, citing the opinions of legal experts. Michels said in a debate Sunday that trying to decertify the election was “not a priority.”

Trump pressured Pence not to confirm results from battleground states like Wisconsin. Pence refused to follow through with the request, saying he had no legal authority to do so. His decision enraged Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to chants of “Hang Mike Pence.”

While Kleefisch praised Pence’s support on Wednesday, she previously declined to say whether she thought Pence was right to reject Trump’s pleas.

“I wasn’t in the conversation between Trump or Pence, and I don’t think anyone in this Wisconsin gubernatorial contest can say they know what happened between those two men,” he said. she said in February in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. .

When Trump met Michels at his Mar-a-Lago resort ahead of his endorsement, he complained about tweets about Kleefisch’s teenage daughter going home with the son of a Supreme Court justice. state that ruled against the former president, the Journal Sentinel reported. the weekend.

Judge Brian Hagedorn, who was elected with the backing of conservatives in 2019, joined liberals on the ground in a 4-3 ruling in 2020 to dismiss a Trump lawsuit that sought to throw out hundreds of thousands of ballots of voting.


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