Rebecca Kleefisch took her first shot at GOP guv rival Tim Michels through paid media today, accusing the construction exec in a TV ad of pushing “for years to raise our gas tax while getting rich from massive government contracts.”

Meanwhile, the PAC supporting the former lt. governor launched a $1.2 million ad buy of its own that also targets Michels on the gas tax, opening up a double-barreled approach on the issue five weeks out from the GOP primary.

Michels fired back, saying while he’s never “attacked my competitors in business in order to get ahead,” he “will defend myself when attacked.”

Kleefisch’s campaign said the ad is running statewide on TV and digital platforms, but didn’t say how much it’s spending on the buy.

It comes one day after business consultant Kevin Nicholson dropped out of the GOP primary as Michels has used his personal wealth to gain a significant edge on TV since getting into the race at the end of April.

TV buy information that sources shared with shows Michels has spent more than $5.3 million on TV through the end of this week, compared to just less than $1.9 million by Kleefisch.

Kleefisch’s ad shows her at a gas station as she says he’s put more than 200,000 miles on “this old minivan” with most of them “thankfully” before “Joe Biden and Tony Evers jacked up our gas prices.” Kleefisch says she’ll fight to cut taxes as guv and stop “liberal spending” before she pivots to Michels.

The ad shows a shot of a mansion as Kleefisch says Michels has pushed for gas tax increases and gotten rich off government contracts.

“Tim Michels is out for himself,” Kleefisch says. “I’m Rebecca Kleefisch, and I’m on your side.”

The campaign launched the ad the same day Freedom Wisconsin PAC began its own $1.2 million buy through the Aug. 9 primary. The group declined to release a copy of the ad, which also focuses on gas taxes.

The Kleefisch ad cites a story from the conservative Wisconsin Right Now, which noted Michels’ association with the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association and the Transportation Development Association and lobbying by those road building groups for a higher gas tax.

Michels called it “sad” that Kleefisch decided to go negative, adding he hasn’t and doesn’t support a higher gas tax.

“When politicians are shocked to find themselves losing, they go negative out of desperation,” Michels said.

See the Kleefisch ad here.

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