Cruz backs challenger to Trump-endorsed candidate in Wisconsin gubernatorial race

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced on Wednesday he would be endorsing a challenger to former President Trump’s endorsed candidate in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race.

Cruz said he would be backing former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) in the Wisconsin governor’s race ahead of the Aug. 9 primary.

“I’m proud to endorse @RebeccaforReal for governor of Wisconsin. Rebecca will fight for a stronger economy, school choice so parents are back in charge of their kids’ education, & she will work to protect Life & our #2A. Support Rebecca’s campaign today!” Cruz tweeted.

“.@tedcruz knows the fight Wisconsin is up against on the federal level and knows our state needs a strong, proven leader as governor to fight against Bidenflation and for our pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment values,” Kleefisch tweeted, linking to a Fox News story about Cruz’s announcement. 

The Texas Republican’s endorsement puts him at odds with Trump, who has already endorsed candidate Tim Michels (R), an Army veteran and businessman who’s described himself as a “conservative outsider.”

The former president is holding a rally on Aug. 5 in support of Michels and his other endorsed candidates in Wisconsin. 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has also received Trump’s endorsement, has said he will not attend the rally after citing the former president’s support of the gubernatorial candidate.

“Because this event supports one of the Republican gubernatorial candidates, I will not be attending. I do not endorse candidates in contested primaries. Instead I rely on the good judgement of Republican voters to choose our candidates and will be fully supportive of those who win their primary elections,” Johnson said in a statement on Tuesday.

While Cruz has also endorsed candidates Trump has backed — such as Harriet Hageman, who is going head-to-head with Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming’s Aug. 16 Republican primary — his endorsement demonstrates he is also willing to stray from Trump.

Cruz has been considered a possible 2024 presidential candidate, though he has made no official announcement.