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Tim Michels is under attack in the final days of Wisconsin’s Republican gubernatorial primary, with an ad this week accusing his rival of not initially supporting Donald Trump in 2016 – even as Michels himself appeared on Thursday Did not vote in that primary.

Michels posted the attacking ad against Rebecca Kleefisch days after he said running negative ads was “just bad policy” and that politicians who did so were “failed”.

The ad accused Klee Fisch of not supporting Trump in the 2016 primary and called her “the ultimate Madison insider.” Kleefisch, who was backed by former Vice President Mike Pence, was the first two lieutenant governors. Michels co-owns the state’s largest construction firm, The Michels Company.

While Michels blasted Kleefisch for not supporting Trump in 2016, records show that Michels did not vote in that primary.

“I missed the primary, but I didn’t miss the campaign,” Michels said in a statement to The Associated Press. Michels said he missed the primary because of “an unforeseen major problem suddenly with the Michels Corporation of New York’s large construction project.”

Michels said Trump has always been his first choice and he never campaigned for or supported anyone, unlike Kleefisch.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face Democratic Gov. Tony Evers ahead of schedule in what is expected to be one of the country’s tightest elections this year, with implications for the swing state’s 2024 presidential race. Evers blocked attempts by the Republican-controlled legislature to change election laws and enact a slew of other conservative policy projects.

Michels’ ad, which was circulated by the Democratic Governors Association on Thursday, began airing earlier this week after Michels said in a televised town hall that “my campaign never ran this race. negative advertising.

“The reason is that we never get any business by talking about competition,” said Michels, co-owner of energy and pipeline construction company Michels Corp. “The reason is, it’s just bad policy, and if you have such a reputation in my industry… … people will immediately disrespect you.”

This isn’t the first time Michels has spoken out against negative advertising. Back in July, after Kleefisch posted the first of a series of attack ads targeting Michels, he strongly opposed it.

Michels said on July 6: “When politicians are shocked to find out that they have failed, they become passive in desperation. So it is sad that the former lieutenant governor decided to align with politics as usual.”

Michels spokesman Chris Walker defended the attack ad, saying it was a response to an ad by Kleefisch and his supporters on Thursday.

“After weeks and millions of lies and attacks on Tim, she has set the tone of the campaign,” Walker said. “When your opponent does this for weeks on end, it can’t never go unanswered. .”

Kleefisch spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Michels’ negativity showed Kleefisch “has all the momentum”.

The attack ad came in the midst of a blitz against the election, with Pence campaigning for Kleefisch on Wednesday, calling her a “proven conservative.” Kleefisch served as lieutenant governor under the then governor. Scott Walker, and has the support of Walker, legislative leaders, dozens of Republican lawmakers and others.

Michels is running as an outsider candidate, and Trump has scheduled a rally on Friday in Waukesha County, just three miles from where Pence played for Cliffish, as part of a final push.

Michels noted in his ad that Kleefisch did not support Trump in 2016. She joined Walker in supporting Cruz, who won the Wisconsin primary that year. Cruz backed Kleefisch this year. After Trump became the nominee, Kleefisch backed him in 2016 and 2020.

Michels’ stance on Trump also changed this week. At a town hall on Monday, he refused to pledge to support Trump if he ran for president in 2024. But less than 24 hours later, Michels changed his stance.

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