Candidate Comparison: Meet the Republicans Vying for a Spot on the November Ballot

Michels Kleefisch Ramthun

Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial candidates Tim Michels, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. (Photos of Michels and Kleefisch by Morry Gash/Associated Press)

By Christina Lorey

July 25, 2022

Rebecca Kleefisch, Tim Michels, and Timothy Ramthun want to become Wisconsin’s 46th Governor.

Primary elections remain underappreciated by voters, especially those who complain in the general election about the caliber of their party’s nominee. Voter turnout could break that trend in 2022, however, as Wisconsin has two marquee election battles—each featuring a large pack of candidates from one party or the other.

On Aug. 9, Democratic voters will decide which candidate moves on to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson while Republican voters will decide which candidate will challenge incumbent Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. 

Because the primary elections are a mechanism for the two major parties to choose their nominees, voters can only cast ballots in one party’s primary. 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s La Follette School of Public Affairs asked 5,000 registered voters the issues that matter to them the most. In addition to providing information about the Republican candidates vying for governor, below, you’ll find their stances on the survey’s top issues. 

Rebecca Kleefisch

Lives in: Concord (Jefferson Co.)

Currently Polling at: 26% (Marquette Law School Poll, June 2022)

Notable Endorsements

  • Former Governor Scott Walker
  • Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
  • Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu
  • 39 county sheriffs & 101 local offices

Political Experience: Served as Lieutenant Governor from 2011-2019 under former Governor Scott Walker

Previous Job(s): Worked as a news reporter and anchor for stations in Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois

Political Positions:

  • Abortion: Ban in all cases, including after rape or incest.
  • Climate Change: “No consensus,” a false claim designed to undermine the vast scientific consensus on man made causes.
  • COVID-19 Policies: Against all mask mandates.
  • Economy: Released “Plan to Make Life Affordable Again” (click here to read)
  • Gun Safety: Against safety initiatives to prevent mass murder and school shootings, will oppose “any federal government efforts to take away Second Amendment rights.”
  • Infrastructure: Pledges “improvements to infrastructure including roads and high-speed internet.”
  • Public Education: Supports “universal school choice,” which undermines local public education. Highlights opposition to “critical race theory,” which is not taught in K-12 education.
  • Taxes: Eliminate the personal property tax, double the state child and dependent care tax credit.

Tim Michels

Lives in: Brownsville (Dodge Co.)

Currently Polling at: 27% (Marquette Law School Poll, June 2022)

Notable Endorsements:

  • Former President Donald Trump
  • Former Governor Tommy Thompson

Political Experience: Ran for the Wisconsin Legislature in 1998 and the US Senate in 2004 (lost both races)

Previous Job(s): Served as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer in the US Army for 12 years. Owns and operates Michels Corporation, a construction company.

Political Positions:

  • Abortion: Against abortion care, even in cases of rape and incest.
  • Climate Change: Not listed among priorities.
  • COVID-19 Policies: Not listed among priorities.
  • Economy: Recruit out-of-state veterans to join the Wisconsin workforce.
  • Gun Safety: Against safety initiatives to prevent mass murder and school shootings.
  • Infrastructure: Not listed among priorities
  • Public Education: Focus on private schools, says “I trust parents,” despite the division that brings as educators are second-guessed.
  • Taxes: Corporate tax cuts, eliminate the personal property tax.

Timothy Ramthun

Lives in: Campbellsport (Fond du Lac Co.)

Currently Polling at: 3% (Marquette Law School Poll, June 2022)

Notable Endorsements:

  • Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
  • “My Pillow” Founder Mike Lindell

Political Experience: 4 years (Elected 2018). Ramthun is currently a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the 59th District, representing communities in Calumet, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, and Washington counties.

Previous Job(s): Private business consultant, Kewaskum School Board member.

Public Positions:

  • Abortion: Against abortion care.
  • Climate Change: Not listed among priorities
  • COVID-19 Policies: Called COVID shutdown safeguards an “unconstitutional overreach.”
  • Economy: Prioritize farmers, “No farms, no food.”
  • Gun Safety: Would eliminate permit requirements for widespread use of concealed weapons. 
  • Infrastructure: Not listed among priorities
  • Public Education: Expand school choice which undermines local public education. Wants to ban “critical race theory,” which is not taught in K-12 education.
  • Taxes: Lower corporate taxes.

Wisconsin’s Primary is August 9, 2022, but early voting is already underway. Click here to check your registration, register to vote, and/or get election reminders.


  • Christina Lorey

    Christina is an Edward R. Murrow-winning journalist and former producer, reporter, and anchor for TV stations in Madison and Moline. When she’s not writing or asking questions, you can find her volunteering with Girls on the Run, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and various mental health organizations.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


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