Scott Fitzgerald officially opted against a bid for the U.S. Senate today, instead endorsing fellow GOP state Sen. Leah Vukmir as an “actual conservative.”

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, was considered a top candidate for the U.S. Senate at the beginning of the year. But that talk faded as the legislative session began and the state budget dragged on.

Fitzgerald is the latest Republican to pass on a bid, joining the likes of U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, of Wausau, and Nicole Schneider, the daughter-in-law of former Schneider Trucking exec Don Schneider, in deciding against seeking the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

Vukmir, R-Brookfield, formally launched her campaign last week, while former Marine and business consultant Kevin Nicholson has also announced plans to seek the GOP nomination.

Vukmir has raised questions about Nicholson’s record. He was president of the national College Democrats and spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. He has said going to war, having a family and joining the business world sparked a political conversion.

Fitzgerald praised Vukmir, saying she has his “complete support.”

“She is an exceptional leader, one of the best Wisconsin has to offer, so I am choosing not to run for the U.S. Senate knowing we are in great hands,” Fitzgerald said in a statement released by Vukmir’s campaign. “Leah will listen to the grassroots and will provide Wisconsinites the leadership they deserve in Washington.”

Madison businessman Eric Hovde is also weighing a bid as a Republican.

See the release:

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