How will Trump's endorsements impact Wisconsin's election? Political expert weighs in ahead of primary

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin's primary election is just around the corner, with many candidates preparing for Aug. 9.

Ahead of a contentious race on the GOP side, former President Donald Trump spoke at a Tim Michels rally in Waukesha on Friday night, emphasizing his endorsement of Michels for governor, and making a point to bash incumbent Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. 

Trump has been regularly criticizing Vos for not decertifying the 2020 election results in Wisconsin, a move that Vos has repeatedly said is not constitutionally possible.

 "Despite undeniable evidence of rigging and fraud, Speaker Vos has taken no steps to hold the Wisconsin Elections Commission accountable, clean up the voter rules," Trump said in Waukesha Friday.

Earlier this month, Trump endorsed Vos's opponent, Adam Steen, for Wisconsin's 63rd Assembly district.

Some consider this an atypical move - the former President is heavily taking sides for a state GOP race in a district that only represents 1% of Wisconsin's population.

With Steen and Michels receiving enthusiastic endorsements, Mordecai Lee, Professor Emeritus at UW-Milwaukee, believes Tuesday's primary will be the true test of Trump's influence in Wisconsin.

"Robin Vos represents, I guess you can say, the 'old' Republican party - I don't mean old as antiquated, but the moderate conservatives that we've come to identify as Republicans. Steen is representing the new Republicans, the Trump Republicans," Lee said, "I think this is a referendum on where the base of the Republican party is now."

Lee also notes that Trump could be putting his reputation on the line by endorsing a candidate whose win may be an uphill battle due to Vos's incumbency.

"In Wisconsin politics, when incumbents are running for re-election, they have a 90% chance of winning re-election. Democrat, republican, liberal, conservative, the power of incumbency," Lee said.

The biggest race on Wisconsin's primary ballot remains the for the GOP candidate for governor, with a close split between Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch.

"You've got the former President endorsing one, and the former Vice President endorsing one. You've got former Governor Tommy Thompson endorsing one, and former Governor Scott Walker endorsing the other. So it's like it's evenly balanced," Lee said.

While the race unpredictable right now, independent voters could be the ones who seal the deal on Tuesday.

"I do expect a large crossover vote of relatively independent people who sometimes vote Democrat, sometimes vote Republican, and just want to be where the action is," Lee said.

 Wisconsin's 2022 Primary Election is Tuesday, Aug. 9. Polls open at 7 a.m.

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