With the Wisconsin Republican primary less than a month away, the race to challenge incumbent Governor Tony Evers (D) is heating up as the candidates tout key endorsements and make their final pitch to voters.
Analysts expect Wisconsin to be competitive as Democrats try to take out Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Republicans attempt to make Evers a one-term governor.
The Daily Wire spoke with three of the four GOP candidates running, asking them why they think they can beat Evers in November. A fifth candidate, former Marine Kevin Nicholson, announced he was dropping out earlier this month. There will be a debate on July 24 at Marquette University.
Here is a guide to the four Republican candidates on the August 9 primary ballot (listed in alphabetical order). However, polling indicates that Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch are the leading candidates.
Adam Fischer, a former Wisconsin police officer, most recently served as the executive vice president of sales for Lechner and Sons, a uniform and facility service provider based in Illinois. He told The Daily Wire that he felt called by God to run for governor and intends to hold people who “weaponized” COVID accountable if elected.
“I am running as a regular person who lives just like everybody else, paycheck to paycheck, and I’m going to make a difference in office and be a man of action,” Fischer said.
Fischer said that his top priorities for the state would be law and order, along with cutting spending to help the economy and working-class families.
“I was never spoon fed, I’m true grassroots,” he said when asked what distinguished him from his Republican rivals.
Fischer faulted Gov. Evers for his handling of the 2020 Kenosha riots, saying that he would have immediately sent in the National Guard said he would not “negotiate with terrorists.”
His Christian faith is a big part of his identity, and he said that he was unapologetically pro-life and that he would see that Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion ban was enforced.
“Anyone who does not enforce the law, I don’t care if you’re a judge, a D.A., a police officer, or a regular person, if you don’t enforce the laws then you are not doing your job, and you will be held accountable,” Fischer said when asked about Democrat officials who said they would not enforce the abortion ban.
He describes himself as a Constitutionalist and supporter of the Second Amendment, saying he frequently carries a firearm. Fischer proposes providing additional ambulance support to counties across the state and ridding schools of gender ideology.
“I am an action guy, people say they support farmers, I am a farmer. I am a hunter. I am a fisherman. I am working class,” he said. “I will not manage Wisconsin from Madison. You cannot cookie-cutter a state.”
Rebecca Kleefisch, a mother of two, was Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor from 2011-2019, serving alongside then-Governor Scott Walker (R). She announced her run for governor last September.
She has earned endorsements from Walker, Governor Kim Reynolds (R-IA), former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R-SC), former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and groups like Wisconsin Right to Life, Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police, and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
“It’s time for us to take back control of our government and give it back to the people of Wisconsin. We need to get back to work and we’ve got to get kids back in the classroom. We’ve got to back the badge,” she told The Daily Wire.
Kleefisch said she was a “proven conservative reformer,” pointing to Wisconsin passing laws pertaining to concealed carry, requiring a photo ID to vote, and defunding Planned Parenthood during her tenure as lieutenant governor. She also survived a recall attempt in 2012 after Republicans passed teachers union reform.
When asked what issues mattered most to Wisconsin voters. she mentioned inflation, crime, and education, promising to enact universal school choice. Kleefisch said she would sign bail and sentencing reform to shift power away from more lenient district attorneys and judges.
The Republican hopeful also vowed to ban “Critical Race Theory” in the classroom, abolish vaccine mandates, eliminate ballot drop boxes, and the use of third-party dollars to fund elections. She also promised to form an office devoted to election integrity and to get rid of the Wisconsin Election Commission.
She said Wisconsinites were looking forward to reforms “after Tony Evers’ administration turned into a steam roller toward people’s individual rights and constitutional liberties.”
Kleefisch also criticized Evers and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul for their response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and for saying they won’t enforce the state’s longstanding abortion ban.
“It is disqualifying for Tony Evers and Josh Kaul to even run for political office saying that they will not enforce Wisconsin’s laws. As governor, we need to approach this new situation rejoicing for the lives that will be saved, countless unborn babies will now get the opportunities for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” she said.
When asked about inflation, she discussed pursuing welfare reform, eventually eliminating the state income tax, and not taxing retirement income. Kleefisch claimed she was the only Republican in the race who could unseat Evers.
Tim Michels, a military veteran and construction executive, announced his run for governor in April. He earned the endorsements of former President Donald Trump and former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (R).
“I am running for governor because I am very concerned about the direction that the country is heading and extremely concerned about the lack of leadership from Governor Evers here in Wisconsin,” Michels told The Daily Wire.
He criticized Evers’ leadership during COVID and the unrest in Kenosha, saying that he would replace him “with proven executive experience.” He said Evers stood “idle while Kenosha burned.”
Michels was in the Army for 12 years before leaving as a major and said the company that he runs, Michel’s Corporation, currently employs about 8,000 people. He said he was honored to receive Trump’s endorsement.
“People are tired with politics as usual, tired of career politicians, they want an outsider, they want a businessman,” Michels said. “That’s what I bring to this race.”
According to Michels, about 70% of his company is working on energy infrastructure, and he claimed he had to lay off 700 employees because of Biden’s decision to cancel the Keystone Pipeline.
“People are suffering because of dumb decisions by career politicians,” he said. Michels added he would work with the legislatures to stop “outside billionaires from coming into the state to influence our election processes” and he would stop “unmanned ballot boxes.”
He also added that he was concerned about crime and would support law enforcement and crack down on “soft-on-crime” public officials.
Michels pledged to promote education reform through competition and introduce universal school choice. “We need to have less CRT, and more ABCs,” he said.
Like the other Republican candidates, Michels said he supports the 1849 Wisconsin abortion ban and is pro-life. The construction executive emphasized his outsider status.
“People must now decide if they want politics as usual. If so, they should vote for the usual politicians. But if you want change, if you want things to be different then you should vote for an outsider, you should vote for a businessman who has proven success and proven executive experience, and like Donald Trump didn’t have to run for public office, but wanted to serve and make government better,” he said.
The Daily Wire reached out to the Ramthun campaign multiple times but did not receive a response before this article was published. Any comment from the campaign will be added if received.
Ramthun, a representative in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2018, has worked as a businessman and served on the school board at the local level. He has been endorsed by Michael Flynn, Mike Lindell, and Pro-Life Wisconsin.
“I will confront anything that undermines our Constitution, God given rights, or the sovereignty of individuals, the State of Wisconsin, and the United States of America, with vigor,” Ramthun wrote when explaining why he was running for governor. “As such, I will defend our Bill of Rights, nurture free enterprise, engage in communities, embrace diversity most properly understood as ‘equality,’ not ‘equity,’ and celebrate our beautiful and blessed country.”
He has made election integrity a major part of his campaign and has raised questions about the 2020 presidential election. The congressman has pushed to decertify the results, pointing to the use of ballot drop boxes across the state.
“When the ballot drop boxes were used illegally, anything and all things that went into them made them null and void the moment they went into the box,” he said recently.
Ramthun’s campaign website also discusses combating corruption and the need for equal application of the law throughout the state.
“Our laws must also be necessary and for the good of all reasonable citizens, not contrived to advance some particular special interest groups’ attempt to mold society into their idea of “equity,” or to move money and problems from one place to another,” he says.
Ramthun also said that he is firmly pro-life and that life begins at conception, stemming from his belief that every child is made in the image of God.
Another major plank of Ramthun’s campaign are education issues, as he has advocated for expanded school choice and a ban of CRT in the classroom.
“This is why it is also time to push for universal school choice. It’s not only some parents who deserve to make decisions about their own children’s education, but all parents. It’s not some students who deserve a healthy learning environment and fact-based curriculum, but all children,” he said.