Trump-backed candidate Tim Michels wins Republican primary race for governor

NOW: Trump-backed candidate Tim Michels wins Republican primary race for governor

WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Tim Michels has won the Republican primary race for governor, clearing the field to go head-to-head with incumbent Democratic Governor Tony Evers this fall. This, after Rebecca Kleefisch conceded to Michels in Tuesday's primary.

"I know Madison needs firm executive leadership and that's what I'm going to do as governor," Michels said to a crowd of supporters at his watch party held in Waukesha.

Donald Trump endorsed Michels and made a trip to Waukesha three days before Tuesday's primary, a striking display of Trump's grip on Wisconsin politics. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence backed Kleefisch, which further pitted the top two candidates in the race.

Michels, a multimillionaire construction company co-owner, easily defeated his primary opponents and was able to outspend his opponents by largely self-funding his campaign.

During his victory speech, Michels said he will commit to social issues including the economy and jobs. He also pledged to focused on voters who "feel left behind" and promised to work across the aisle with Milwaukee leaders to tackle rising crime.

"Politics has become so divisive," Michels said. "I will work with people like Democratic Mayor Caviler Johnson and County Executive David Crowley. You know why? Because the people of Milwaukee are suffering badly."

Michels, 60, quickly built his campaign and launched TV ads almost immediately after entering the race in late April. The U.S. Army veteran cast himself as an "outsider" to “turn Madison upside down.”

Election integrity, rising crime and expanding school choice were among the top issues Michels ran on.

He will now advance to face off against Gov. Tony Evers in the general election on Nov. 8.It marks the first time Michels was on the ballot and won since 2004 after he was defeated by Democratic Senator Russ Feingold in the U.S. Senate race.

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