Construction executive Tim Michels has won the Republican primary for governor in Wisconsin, defeating former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch with the help of a “political outsider” message, millions of dollars of his personal wealth and a critical endorsement by former President Donald Trump.
As of 10:37 p.m., unofficial totals from the Associated Press showed Michels defeating Kleefisch 47-43 percent.
I’m here to say the American dream is still alive, and good people need to step up and run,” Michels told a cheering crowd at his campaign victory party in Waukesha. “We’re going to get an outsider, a businessman and a veteran in the governor’s office.”
Michels won his race by performing well in a wide swath of rural counties that have supported Trump in his runs for office, but he also performed better than Trump in some suburban counties. For example, Michels carried one of the vaunted “WOW” counties in southeast Wisconsin, winning Washington County while Kleefisch narrowly won Waukesha and Ozaukee counties.
Along with Wisconsin’s race for U.S. Senate, the race for governor is likely to be fiercely competitive. Thirty-six states will hold elections for governor this year. Wisconsin is one of just four of those races considered toss-ups by the Cook Political Report.