Trump endorses Michels in Wisconsin governor's race
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Former President Donald Trump on Thursday, June 2 endorsed Republican candidate Tim Michels in Wisconsin's competitive governor's race.
“Wisconsin needs a Governor who will Stop Inflation, Uphold the Rule of Law, strengthen our Borders (we had the strongest borders in history just two years ago, now we have the weakest!) and End the well-documented Fraud in our Elections,” Trump said in a statement.
"Tim Michels is the best candidate to deliver meaningful solutions to these problems, and he will produce jobs like no one else can even imagine."
Michels, a construction executive, received Trump's blessing ahead of the Aug. 9 primary -- beating three of his Republican opponents who also competed for Trump's support. Michels called the endorsement "a tremendous boost" to his campaign after jumping into the race late.
Almost immediately after the announcement, one of Michels Republican primary challengers Rebecca Kleefisch released a statement.
"If I know one thing about President Trump, it's that he likes winners, and I'm the only person in this race who has won statewide — not once, but four times," Kleefisch said.
The former lieutenant governor won her primary in 2010, survived a recall in 2011, and also won on the ticket with then-Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 and 2014.
Trump's announcement could be a blow to other candidates, especially after none received enough votes to secure the Republican Party of Wisconsin's endorsement at their state convention.
The state party's endorsement typically unlocks fundraising and other resources, which could have been a much-needed boost to break away from the crowded field. Michels, the co-owner of his family's construction business, is largely self-funding his campaign and can afford to stay on the airwaves with his wealth.
Trump continues to be a dominant force in Republican politics, but it remains to be seen how influential his support will be in the race. Some of Trump-endorsed candidates have won in primary races held in other states, others have not.
Michels, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2004, joins Kleefisch, business consultant Kevin Nicholson, and State Rep. Tim Ramthun in the GOP primary. Each candidate, besides Nicholson, traveled to Mar-a-Lago in recent weeks asking for Trump's backing.