Former governor Thompson endorses Michels in GOP race

Construction executive Tim Michels and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch locked in a tight primary race

Tim Michels
Tim Michels. Photo courtesy of Tim Michels campaign.

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson is endorsing construction company co-owner Tim Michels for governor.

The move comes after Thompson decided against a run earlier this year. Thompson’s endorsement Friday is on the heels of Michels winning the backing of Donald Trump last month.

Polls show Michels is in a tight primary race with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

In an interview with WPR, Thompson cited longstanding ties with Michels’ family, specifically his parents Dale and Ruth, who founded the Michels Corp. construction firm based in Brownsville.

Thompson said Tim Michels and his brothers have built the firm into one of the largest construction companies in the Midwest.

“And I think he’ll take that same hard work, that same determination that he got from his father and mother and do the same great job as in the state of Wisconsin as governor,” said Thompson.

The political styles of Thompson and Trump stand in stark contrast to one another. Thompson is known for working with Democratic and Republican state lawmakers during his four terms as governor. Meanwhile, Trump has never been shy about attacking Democrats and even fellow Republicans.

Thompson said the dueling endorsements show Michels appeals to a wide swath of Republican voters.

“And I think it would serve him very well to have that kind of a broad base going into the governorship,” said Thompson.

The Republican gubernatorial primary election is August 9. The victor will go up against Democratic first-term Gov. Tony Evers in the November 8 general election.