Construction firm exec Tim Michels declared “enough of the bickering” as he formally launched his GOP bid for guv, vowing he would use his private sector experience to help bring people together.
But he also accused Dem Gov. Tony Evers of breaking the education system. He called on GOP lawmakers yesterday to reintroduce a series of education bills that Evers vetoed earlier this month. One of the bills was a so-called parental bill of rights and breaking up Milwaukee Public Schools into at least four districts.
Michels said he would work with Milwaukee leaders to fix the state’s largest school district. He added helping kids get an education would have a significant impact on crime rates.
“We need to get back to teaching more ABCs and less CRT,” Michels said, referring to critical race theory.
During a less than 10-minute speech at the Michels Corp. in Brownsville, the Republican recounted going to work for the family business at 9, joining the ROTC in college and serving for 12 years in the Army, where he rose to the rank of major.
After leaving the service, he went to work for his father, who died a year after Michels joined the company. Michels said it was one of the great regrets of his life that they didn’t get more time together. He called his father an entrepreneur and a risk taker who wasn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves.
“That’s how he trained my brothers and me to operate, and that’s how I’m going to operate as governor,” Michels said.
Meanwhile, Dems sought to portray Michels as divisive and radical as he formally announced his bid for governor.
Sam Roecker, a spokesman for Evers, hit Michels for in the past backing a ban on gay marriage and on abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest. He predicted the GOP field would “double down on their radical and dangerous rhetoric” with Michels now officially in.
“No matter who wins this battle to prove who is the most extreme, any candidate the GOP nominates will be wildly out of touch with the people of Wisconsin,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, Michels issued a statement announcing he won’t take donations from PACs or lobbyists and will cap individual donations to his GOP guv bid at $500.
Under state law, donors can give up to $20,000 to candidates for guv. Michels’ website includes a page to donate to the campaign. It lists options from $5 to $500 along with a box labeled “other.” Attempts to put in a figure above $500 automatically reduces it to a $500 contribution.
“Our campaign will be aggressive, and it will be free of special interest influence,” Michels said in the release.
This is Michels’ third bid for public office in Wisconsin. He lost the 2004 U.S. Senate race to Dem incumbent Russ Feingold by 11 points. He also lost a 1998 GOP primary for the state Senate by more than 2-to-1 to Scott Fitzgerald, who went on to hold the seat for 22 years before joining Congress.
He joins a GOP field that includes Rebecca Kleefisch, Kevin Nicholson and Tim Ramthun.
The state Dem Party took several shots at Michels, including for the work of his family business, Michels Corp. The party set up a new website https://timmichels.com/ that links to 2018 coverage of Wisconsin Contractors II for double billing the state for 15,000 cubic yards of gravel for the Zoo Interchange. Michels Corp. was part of Wisconsin Contractors II, which received a $404,250 payment. The companies insisted at the time the payment was appropriate.
See video from the kickoff event:
See Michels’ announcement:
See the Dem Party website: