Former VP Mike Pence endorses Rebecca Kleefisch for governor in his latest break with Donald Trump

Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefish and former Vice President Mike Pence.

Wisconsin became the latest political battleground Wednesday in the growing rivalry between former President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, once a loyal lieutenant to Trump as Vice President and now a political foe.

With less than two weeks leading up to the closely watched primary for Wisconsin governor, candidate Rebecca Kleefisch picked up an endorsement from Pence, coming on the heels of Trump endorsing Kleefisch's rival, businessman Tim Michels.

More: Bice: Trump endorsed Tim Michels after ranting about 2019 tweets of Kleefisch and Brian Hagedorn's teens

Pence and Trump were on opposite sides earlier this week in Arizona, another state, like Wisconsin, where Trump's false claims about the 2020 election have been a flashpoint.

The rift between the former running mates broke open on Jan. 6, 2021 when Pence refused Trump's calls to overturn the election results of battleground states like Wisconsin.

In dueling campaign swings in the state, Pence stumped for Republican gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson with Trump backing her opponent, Kari Lake.

Both the Arizona trip and the Pence endorsement in Wisconsin come on the heels of the latest hearing of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot with testimony that Trump appeared to support rioters changing "Hang Mike Pence!" during the storming of the Capitol.

Ted Cruz, who won Wisconsin's 2016 GOP presidential primary over Trump, also endorsed Kleefisch this week.

Michels also has gotten the endorsement of former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who briefly considered another run for governor.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Mike Pence endorses Kleefisch in Wisconsin after Trump backs Michels