Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir said she is gaining traction in the race for the nomination and her message “is resonating with the grass roots.”
“I have said all along you can’t win an election in Wisconsin without the grass roots,” Vukmir said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
Vukmir, a state senator from Brookfield, won the endorsement at the state party convention last month with the support of 73 percent of the delegates.
“These are the individuals that are going to go out and help me in every corner of the state, to help me defeat (Democratic U.S. Sen.) Tammy Baldwin,” said Vukmir, who must first beat Delafield businessman and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson in the Aug. 14 primary.
Vukmir said she has a “proven track record as a conservative that people can trust.”
“No one has to question whether or not I will stand strong. No one has to question whether or not I will cave under the pressure. After everything we have been through here in Wisconsin, it’s pretty clear I am not someone who is going to easily cave,” she said.
Gousha asked her about key points in President Trump’s agenda, and whether she supported his tariffs.
“President Trump got elected in large part because people know he is a negotiator. ‘The Art of the Deal.’ He wrote the book. I am willing to give him the opportunity to create fairer deals for our country,” she said.
Gousha also asked Vukmir about the image her campaign put out of Baldwin with Khalid Sheik Muhammad, the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The image featured Vukmir and CIA Director Gina Haspel, labeled “Team America” on one side, and Baldwin and KSM labeled “Team Terrorists” on the other side.
Vukmir said her campaign did it to draw attention to Baldwin’s initial silence on President Trump’s nomination of Haspel. The nomination caused controversy because of Haspel’s past involvement with the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” and detention efforts during the Bush administration. Baldwin eventually voted against confirming Haspel.
“My point with that all along is that Tammy Baldwin was more concerned about the mastermind and his concerns, than she was about remembering the 3,000 Americans who lost their lives on 9-11,” Vukmir said.
“I wanted people to understand that Tammy Baldwin hides on a regular basis. We haven’t seen her for the last five and a half years but now she’s here,” Vukmir said.
Gousha also asked about immigration, Trump’s border wall and whether Vukmir is bothered by reports of children being taken from parents who are trying to enter the country illegally.
“Of course it does bother me. We’re going to have watch it very closely,” she said. “People are taking advantage of our generosity in this country. There is a process that has to be upheld.”
Gousha also asked about Trump’s statement that he has an “absolute right” to pardon himself.
“I think we have to follow our constitution. I, again, I think the president right now is in a situation where he is being attacked by everyone. People want to see this president fail. And I think we have to give him the opportunity to succeed. I’m looking at the positive things that he has accomplished so far in the short period of time that he has been in office,” she said.
Also on the program, Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel discussed the special election Tuesday in the 1st SD in northeastern Wisconsin. A special election also will be held Tuesday in the 42nd AD in south central Wisconsin. Both elections are being held to fill open seats.
Gilbert said the 1st SD is a Republican district that President Trump won by 18 points in 2016. He also said it is currently looking like the northwestern Wisconsin Senate district that flipped from Republicans to Democrats in a special election in January.
“We kind of know that Democrats have a lot of enthusiasm and energy right now. The more of the unanswered question is on the Republican side. Traditional Republicans, are they going to turn out? The more independent part of the coalition that was for Trump, are they going to turn out?” Gilbert said.
Gilbert cautioned against reading too much into the outcome on Tuesday, as it’s likely to be a low-turnout election.
“These are Republican districts. They can elect a Democrat in a low-turnout election, if there’s a turnout differential. It’s much harder for a Democrat to win in a big turnout election,” he said.
In another segment, Marquette Law School water law expert David Strifling said a challenge by several environmental groups to the diversion of Lake Michigan water for Foxconn could be the next big test of the multi-state agreement governing use of Great Lakes water.
The city of Racine filed an application to divert 7 million gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan to Mt. Pleasant for Foxconn.
Environmental groups filed a challenge with the DNR over the DNR’s approval of Racine’s application.
Strifling said the Great Lakes compact requires that water be used for “public water supply purposes.” He said this will be a “test of what public purpose really means.”
He said the first step will be a hearing before an administrative law judge. But the case could go on from there.
“This is the precursor to a lawsuit in circuit court, potentially,” he said. The Legislature also added a provision that any appeal could go directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Strifling said.
See more from the show