It’s official: the Wisconsin GOP primary for governor just became a battleground for the fight between Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Pence just announced he’s endorsing Rebecca Kleefisch, a decision that flies in the face of Donald Trump, who endorsed Tim Michels a few weeks ago.
The primary was divisive enough already; Wisconsin Republicans couldn’t even come together to endorse a candidate at their state party convention. Now, it’s pitting former president against vice president in a move that will surely splinter the GOP base even more.
Making things even juicer, Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Wisconsin next week to support Michels.
Trump’s endorsement of Michels set off an infighting-fueled far-right sprint for the GOP candidates. It spurred Kleefisch to run multiple attack ads against Michels, including one featuring Wisconsin’s favorite failed former governor Scott Walker.
Now, that Pence has officially backed a horse in the race, the GOP candidates will have to go even more to the right to court fringe GOP votes and prove they’re the most conservative candidate in the race.
“Any last hope of Wisconsin Republicans uniting around one candidate just flew out the window, now that the GOP primary has turned into a Trump-Pence proxy war,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “With less than two weeks until primary day, Wisconsin Republicans are more divided than ever, and the mudslinging between candidates is just heating up. No matter who ends up as the nominee, their radical positions and far-right dog whistles will be too far out of touch for Wisconsin.”