Wisconsin governor election updates: Tim Michels’ releases economic plan, wants to eliminate personal property tax

Gun Rights

Four Republican candidates are vying to challenge Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s first-term governor, in what is expected to be a hotly contested, nationally watched contest. The Republicans will face each other in the Aug. 9 primary, with the winner advancing to challenge Evers on Nov. 8.

Tim Michels’ releases economic plan, wants to eliminate personal property tax

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels released a broad-brush economic plan Monday that includes eliminating personal property taxes.  

Michels, a multimillionaire who co-owns the state’s largest construction company, is calling his plan the “Wisconsin First Blueprint.”  

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It includes 11 bullet points, but few details on how he plans to achieve the goals. The Michels campaign did not respond to a request for more information.  

Michels, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is in a tight primary contest with Rebecca Kleefisch, who has the backing of former Gov. Scott Walker.  

She served as Walker’s lieutenant governor between 2011 and 2019. 

Michels “blueprint” is focused on three areas: incentivizing business attraction and expansion in Wisconsin, addressing workforce shortages, and creating a more sustainable economy suited for the 21st century, according to the campaign. 

“Having an experienced, proven business leader in Madison will allow our state to produce a strong, more sustainable economy,” Michels said in a statement. “Tony Evers has no idea how to grow a successful business. I’ve spent my entire life creating jobs. I will do the same as governor.” 

Besides eliminating the personal property tax, Michels wants to reduce corporate and individual income taxes to attract and retain more talent in Wisconsin and increase American energy production. The entire plan can be found on his website.  

Kleefisch’s campaign has released two policy papers on the economy and has emphasized tax cuts.  

Tim Michels’ campaign says mailer promoting NRA endorsement was sent ‘in error’

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels sent out a mailer to potential voters promoting an endorsement from the National Rifle Association that Michels does not have — an error a spokesman said was unintentional and has since been corrected. 

Michels’ campaign mailer included a photo of Michels in hunting gear with a freshly harvested buck and said Michels was “standing up for our gun rights.” It promoted an endorsement from the NRA at the bottom of the mailer. 

“There was an error in a mailer we sent out but it was unintentional and it has been immediately corrected for all future communications,” Chris Walker, adviser to the Michels campaign, said in a statement on Monday.

“As a lifetime NRA member, hunter, and staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, Tim received the highest rating possible for a non-elected official. Our direct mail shouldn’t have indicated that rating was an ‘endorsement,’ and subsequent communications will describe his ‘AQ rating’ from the NRA. Too many people and shady organizations have been lying about him and his position on issues, it’s imperative that we set the record straight.”

Scott Jones, NRA Wisconsin’s state director, said in a statement the NRA Political Victory Fund has not made any endorsements for the 2022 Wisconsin gubernatorial primary.

Michels received an AQ rating from the NRA, which is the highest rating a candidate without a voting record can receive. Republican primary opponents Rebecca Kleefisch and Tim Ramthun each received a rating of A. 

Kleefisch’s campaign manager Charles Nichols in a statement accused Michels of lying to voters intentionally.  

“Tim Michels was caught lying to Wisconsin voters, and now he’s desperately trying to cover his tracks,” Nichols said. 

— Molly Beck

Tim Ramthun raises $172K in bid for governor

State Rep. Tim Ramthun of Campbellsport raised less than $200,000 so far in his campaign for governor, far less than his opponents in the GOP primary.

Ramthun is reporting having raised $172,627 in the first six months of 2022 and has about $86,000 in cash on hand heading into the final weeks of the Republican primary for governor. 

His haul is far less than what former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch plans to report Friday, the deadline for candidates to file campaign finance reports covering the first six months of the year. 

Kleefisch announced this week she plans to report raising $3.6 million. Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers said he raised $10.1 million in the same time period. 

Tim Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp., is leading the GOP primary in state polling and has not yet reported his fundraising totals. 

– Molly Beck

Tony Evers: Republicans won’t stop investigating 2020 ‘until Donald Trump is 6 feet under’

Democratic incumbent Gov. Tony Evers warned supporters Wednesday that if he is not re-elected, oversight of elections in Wisconsin could be at risk of being turned over to state lawmakers.

“We will see elections change to the point where the Legislature makes the final decision and that should scare the living crap out of everybody in this room,” Evers said at a campaign stop in Madison focused on abortions.

Evers’ top Republican rival Tim Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp., said Tuesday he isn’t ruling out signing legislation to overturn the result of the 2020 election that former President Donald Trump lost. 

Trump, who has endorsed Michels for governor, has pushed lawmakers for two years to take action to overturn his election loss in 2020. But the idea is impossible, legal scholars say — including his own attorney. 

But the idea persists as Trump and some of his supporters continue to push it. 

“They will continue doing this until Donald Trump is 6 feet under,” Evers said about Republicans focusing on the 2020 election.

Molly Beck. 

Tim Michels now says he is ‘not against contraception

GREEN BAY – The Republican candidate for governor leading in state polling now says he is “not against contraception” after previously refusing to say whether he would sign legislation banning emergency contraceptives, known as Plan B.

“I am against abortion, I am not against contraception,” Tim Michels, a construction executive endorsed by former President Donald Trump, told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin in an interview Tuesday when asked whether he would sign a bill as governor banning Plan B.

Michels made the comments at a campaign stop in Green Bay, kicking off a two-day, statewide tour through the northern parts of the state. The tour comes less than a month before an Aug. 9 primary election during which he will face former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and state Rep. Tim Ramthun. 

Kleefisch has pledged not to ban Plan B as scrutiny of Republican candidates’ positions on emergency contraceptives come under scrutiny in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has halted abortion procedures in the state. 

Read the full story

Tony Evers raises $10.1 million so far in 2022

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers has raised $10.1 million in the first six months of 2022 — putting his total re-election fundraising haul since the start of 2021 at more than $20 million, according to the Democratic governor’s campaign.

The incumbent is facing a general election race against either a well-known former lieutenant governor or a construction executive with enough wealth topersonally finance a campaign as rising inflation and gas prices push disapproval of the leader of Evers’ party to historic levels.

Against these headwinds, Evers raised nearly double what his predecessor, former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, had amassed at this point in their 2018 race, according to the campaign. Evers’ campaign has $7.6 million in cash on hand one month from the start of the general election race.

Evers will likely face either former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch or Tim Michels, who co-owns Michels Corp., a pipeline construction company. Kleefisch and Michels are leading by double digits in recent state polling on a primary field of four Republicans. 

Read the full story

GOP candidate for governor Tim Michels says he supports Wisconsin’s right-to-work law despite his company’s past opposition

Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels says he supports Wisconsin’s current ban on requiring non-unionized workers to pay dues to their workplace union, despite his company’s history opposing it.  

Wisconsin enacted the ban, known as “right to work,” in 2015 under former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The state’s law is similar to those passed in more than 20 states nationwide.

Michels Corp, the construction company Michels co-owns, was a part of the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition that opposed the right-to-work proposal.

The construction company’s employees were also a part of protests against the proposed right-to-work law at the time. At least one employee of the company was able to protest right-to-work legislation because Michels Corp. gave him time off, according to a 2015 article from The Daily Reporter, a construction industry newspaper. 

Read the full story

Get ready for nonstop political ads. A Democratic group announces plan to spend $21 million this fall for Tony Evers

In the latest sign Wisconsinites will see nonstop political ads this fall, a Democratic group announced Wednesday it plans to spend $21 million on spots supporting Gov. Tony Evers. 

The ad reservation by the Democratic Governors Association comes two months after its Republican counterpart said it would spend $6.2 million on spots for its nominee starting in September. The Republican group has described its plans as initial and said it could spend more.

The Democrats didn’t say when their ads would begin running. 

The candidates and other groups will also be spending heavily, guaranteeing an onslaught of ads this fall. 

Read the full story.

Evers is casting himself as someone who works with Republicans, but he rarely talks to GOP leaders

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is campaigning as if he works closely with Republicans who control the Legislature even though he rarely talks to legislative leaders.

The lack of communication between the first-term governor and GOP leaders has been well established, and each side has blamed the other for the situation. Overlooking their history, Evers launched a re-election ad Monday that said he “worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass middle-class income tax relief.”

The two sides barely spoke during budget deliberations last year. Republicans tossed aside Evers’ proposal to raise some taxes and cut others and then wrote their own plan to cut income taxes by more than $2 billion over two years. Evers quickly signed their plan, calling it a victory for the middle class. 

Republicans treated Evers’ ad as revisionist history. 

“This is something,” Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, wrote on Twitter. “Why would anyone believe he’d reverse course after 3 years of pretending the legislature didn’t exist?”

Read the full story.

Michels has lived part-time in Connecticut and Manhattan the past decade but says Wisconsin is home

Construction company executive Tim Michels is running for governor of Wisconsin after spending the last decade living part-time in Manhattan and Connecticut, where his children attended school.

Michels, a co-owner of the Brownsville-based Michels Corp. who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, said Monday he calls the Waukesha County lake country community Chenequa home but also has split his time for the last nine years on the east coast.

Most recently, Michels and his wife purchased a $17 million estate in Greenwich, Connecticut in 2020 — real estate holdings first reported Sunday by the conservative website Wisconsin Right Now. 

Michels defended his ties to the Badger State on Monday following the release of the Wisconsin Right Now story questioning his residency.

Read the full story.

Kleefisch ignored problems with Wisconsin’s unemployment system, former workforce development secretary says

 A cabinet secretary who served with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch turned against her Friday, saying she had ignored problems with the state’s unemployment system for years, leading to a crisis when claims skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Manny Perez, the first workforce development secretary under Republican Gov. Scott Walker, wrote in a column in the Wisconsin State Journal that Walker and Kleefisch had disregarded his pleas to upgrade the state’s decades-old computer systems that process unemployment claims. 

“They knew this was a crisis waiting to happen and did nothing,” Perez wrote. 

Keith Gilkes, who served as Walker’s chief of staff, called Perez’s claims false. He described Perez as a disgruntled employee who left his position in 2011 after less than five months on the job. 

Read the full story.

Michels promises to divest himself from family construction business if he wins race for governor

Tim Michels announced he would divest himself from his family’s construction business if he wins the governorship, making the pledge hours after ethical questions were raised about the company continuing to seek government contracts under a Michels administration.

Michels joined the Republican primary for governor last week and said days later he was stepping down from his management role with Brownsville-based Michels Corp. The firm has received more than $660 million from the state for construction projects over the last five years. 

Read the full story.

More: Here are the 4 Republicans who are seeking to unseat Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in the 2022 election

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