In the third and latest "proxy war" between the last two Republicans to serve as president and vice president, Donald Trump-backed Tim Michels last night won the Republican primary for governor of Wisconsin over former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who not only had the blessings of Mike Pence but of the Badger State's last Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
But construction company executive Michels clearly had the endorsement that counted most in GOP nomination fights, and he rolled up a margin of 47% to 42% over Kleefisch in the five-candidate contest.
That Trump's support of Michels was critical to the outcome of the primary is almost inarguable. Right up to the balloting Tuesday, virtually all polls showed Kleefisch in the lead by 1 to 4 percentage points. The resulting press attention from the raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home Monday evening may also have fueled some of the turnout for Michels by angry backers of the former president on Tuesday.
"The former president is the leader of the Republican Party and his endorsement means a lot in Wisconsin," Ellen Foley, prize-winning former journalist and Madison marketing firm owner, told Newsmax a day before the balloting.
As it is for many of the successful gubernatorial hopefuls backed by Trump in Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, the major question for Michels in the fall campaign is what he would specifically do as governor if he unseats Democrat Gov. Tony Evers.
With much of the primary campaign focusing on election reform and the legitimacy of the 2020 election, Michels was frequently vague on issues.
At one point, he refused to answer the Milwaukee Journal's question about whether he supported a controversial measure to outlaw contraception known as Plan B. He finally came out against the measure and said "I'm against abortion but I am not against contraception."
Although he never went as far as Trump supporters wanted and did not say he supported "decertifying" the 2020 election results, Michels did promise to abolish the State Election Commission. He also called for a hard line on crime and backed education reform.
How well Michels spells out the details in his platform planks may easily determine whether he unseats Evers in November.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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