The Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial primary is shaping up to be an expensive and divisive race after well-known Republican donors Liz and Richard Uihlein recently threw their support behind likely Republican candidate Kevin Nicholson.
The Racine Journal-Times warns that Nicholson has been increasing his name recognition for over a year ahead of the election, and the Uihleins’ multibillionaire influence “can’t be understated.”
The New York Times dubbed the Uihleins as “The Most Powerful Conservative Couple You’ve Never Heard Of” and said the couple is set on pushing the GOP “further to the right” with the candidates they support.
In 2018, the couple backed Nicholson in his horribly unsuccessful, multimillion-dollar Senate bid. The Uihleins’ reputation as massive spenders looking to drag Republicans further right is bad news for Nicholson’s opponents, who will be forced to spend more and cave to far-right litmus tests and unpopular policy positions to win extremists’ votes. Rebecca Kleefisch is already staking out far-right positions including opposing public health measures and banning abortion.
But Nicholson could be in trouble too after the Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed an IRS complaint alleging that “Nicholson is avoiding paying taxes, disclosing his wealthy donors, and the scrutiny that typically comes from being an announced candidate” by running his campaign through the nonprofit No Better Friend Corp., of which Dick Uihlein sits on the board.
“Kevin Nicholson and his big-money backers are ready to turn the Republican gubernatorial primary into an all-out GOP Civil War,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “The Uihleins’ support of Nicholson will drag the race to the right and force fellow Republican candidates like Rebecca Kleefisch to spend millions while bruising each other ahead of the general election.”