Pence backs Kleefisch in Wisconsin governor’s primary, pitting himself against Trump

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday endorsed Rebecca Kleefisch in the Republican primary for Wisconsin governor, pitting himself once again against former President Trump.

“Rebecca Kleefisch is the only candidate that will deliver a stronger and more prosperous Wisconsin, and I am proud to support her,” Pence said in a statement. 

“Rebecca has a proven conservative track record and will draw on her experience to give parents more control of their children’s education, grow the economy and get Wisconsin back to work, fight for traditional conservative values, and make Wisconsin streets safer. Conservatives across the Badger State can fight back against the radical left in Wisconsin and join me in supporting Rebecca Kleefisch for governor.”

Pence’s endorsement came days after Trump endorsed construction executive Tim Michels in the Aug. 9 GOP primary to take on Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) in November.

It’s the latest instance in which Pence has come down opposite of Trump in a high-profile statewide race. Last week, the former vice president endorsed Karrin Taylor Robson in Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Trump is backing former local TV anchor Kari Lake in that race.

Pence has more aggressively challenged Trump in recent months amid speculation that both men are weighing potential bids for the 2024 presidential nomination.

The former vice president has ramped up his public appearances over the past several months and has repeatedly hinted that he won’t be scared off from a White House bid if Trump decides to mount another campaign in 2024. Both Trump and Pence appeared in Washington, D.C., this week for dueling events. 

Pence also endorsed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) reelection bid this year despite Trump’s efforts to oust him. The former president backed former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in that race. Kemp ultimately beat Perdue by more than 50 points.