Wisconsin's Republican governor candidate Tim Michels noticeably absent from weekend campaign events

Tim Michels claims victory in the Republican primary for governor Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022, at Tuscan Hall Venue and Catering in Waukesha, Wis. He will face Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, in the general election.
·3 min read

Members of the Wisconsin GOP party ticket spoke Sunday at the Republican Party of Dane County's Lincoln Reagan Dinner, but the man at the top was noticeably absent.

Since winning the Republican gubernatorial primary on Aug. 9, Michels has made only one public appearance — at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Over the weekend, Michels campaign staffers tweeted they were in Grant County "fired up to take on Tony Evers and send proven leadership that will get Wisconsin back on track."

And they said they were at the Hamburger Parade in Seymour.

And they said they had gone from "Kenosha, to Janesville, to Milwaukee," but Michels himself was not there.

When contacted Saturday and Sunday by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a Michels campaign adviser did not answer when asked if Michels himself was campaigning.

Monday afternoon, the campaign issued a statement when asked about the candidate's whereabouts.

“Following a well fought primary, Tim has spent his time focusing on building the broadest and widest campaign for the general election by bringing people together, planning out strategies, and expanding staff," said campaign adviser Chris Walker.

"This week, Tim is traveling around the state with the other candidates with a singular, unified focus - beating Tony Evers.”

State Rep. Barbara Dittrich, who is running for reelection in the 38th State Assembly District, was at the Dane County Lincoln Reagan Dinner. She posted about it on Facebook.

"I enjoyed reuniting with friends and hearing from top tier candidates like Ron Johnson, Roger Roth for Wisconsin, Eric Toney, and Amy Loudenbeck," Dittrich said.

Dittrich did not respond to requests for further comment.

Dane County Republican Party Chair Scott Grabins said Michels was invited to the dinner, but there wasn't a lot of time for scheduling for candidates who had primaries.

"We were pleased to have Roger Roth representing the top of the ticket in his place though," Grabins said.

Roth, the nominee for lieutenant governor, also had a primary.

Republican strategist Mark Graul said the Lincoln Reagan dinners are important in party politics, but they're usually held in February.

"He has an 80-day sprint ahead of him," Graul said. "I can't imagine Republicans not voting for Tim Michels because he recharged his battery."

On Thursday, Michels joined attorney general nominee Eric Toney, Roth, and former Governor Tommy Thompson at the Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis.

While there, he assured reporters of unity within the party.

"We're not presenting a united front, this is a united front," Michels declared as he spoke with reporters.

Anna Kelly, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, referred questions about Michels whereabouts to his campaign. She said that typically at this stage of a political race following a primary, she imagines he is meeting with grassroots leaders and planning for the general election.

Michels faces Democratic incumbent Evers in the November general election.

Evers launched his campaign Wednesday with lieutenant governor candidate Sara Rodriguez and Attorney General Josh Kaul. The three made stops in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. Evers took the weekend off to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary.

Kayla Anderson, Evers' senior press secretary, said Michels has been avoiding the public eye because he doesn't want to answer questions about his radical positions or why he tried to silently erase his endorsement by former President Donald Trump.

"While Tim Michels is playing hide and seek with voters, Tony Evers has been all across the state, meeting with Wisconsinites and having important conversations about the issues that matter," Anderson said.

"Wisconsin deserves a leader who is doing the right thing, not someone who can’t be bothered to even show up and speak to voters.”

More: Wisconsin Democrats united while Republicans are still healing after a hard-fought GOP governor primary

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Corrinne Hess can be reached at chess@gannett.com. Follow her @corrihess

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin GOP governor candidate Tim Michels skips campaign events