GOP guv candidate Kevin Nicholson told the Republican Party of Wisconsin that he won’t seek its endorsement at the May state convention, saying the process has contributed to Dems’ 11 wins in the past 12 statewide general elections.
Nicholson pointed out in a letter Thursday that he won the popular vote in 57 of the state’s 72 counties in 2018 as he lost the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate to then-state Sen. Leah Vukmir. But of those 57 counties, 44 supported someone else during the endorsement vote at state convention.
Nicholson wrote he will encourage GOP membership not to endorse anyone in the guv’s race at convention, but pledged to support whoever wins the nomination in the Aug. 9 primary.
“At this moment in our history, conservatives here in Wisconsin do not want to add even a hint of insider manipulation to our electoral system,” Nicholson wrote.
Insiders have believed the businessman and former Marine faced an uphill battle for the party’s endorsement after former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has spent years courting delegates through her time in the Walker administration and at party functions. Securing the party’s endorsement would require the support of 60 percent of delegates who attend the convention May 21 and would give a candidate access to the party’s apparatus.
Kleefisch’s campaign didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. Altogether, eight Republicans are registered to run for guv.
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann was in a similar situation in 2010 as he faced then-Milwaukee County Exec Scott Walker for GOP guv nomination. Neumann announced weeks before the May convention that he wasn’t seeking the party’s endorsement and wanted his name pulled from the ballot. But the party rejected the request at the time, saying its rules didn’t have an opt-out provision. The convention’s rules committee would’ve had to change the rules to allow such an option.
Walker ended up winning 91.3 percent of the delegates as he took the party’s endorsement.
A state GOP spokeswoman said Nicholson’s name likely won’t be included on the ballot at convention for this year’s endorsement vote because the rules and executive committee hasn’t met yet to approve procedures. Those rules will be adopted at the beginning of the convention.
See Nicholson’s letter here.