Wisconsin wrestles over support for Republican candidates

Madison, Wis. ( Associated Press) — Wisconsin Republicans are disputing the process of backing candidates for the fall election, with the state party considering a “no support” option for the first time in more than a decade.

The division within the GOP comes as Republicans seek to win back the office of governor and re-elect US Sen. Ron Johnson. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that some Republicans, including gubernatorial candidate Kevin Nicholson and a growing number of county parties, are calling for an end to the endorsement process altogether.

The drama is largely going on behind the scenes, but will come to a head at the State Party’s annual convention in May. That’s where delegates vote on who wins party support for all statewide races, which opens the door to funding and other resources to help that candidate for the August 9 primary and beyond.

Mark Jefferson, executive director of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, told the Wisconsin State Journal He anticipates that the convention’s rules committee will meet before the convention to determine whether to allow the “no support” option on the upcoming ballot. And no matter the outcome of that vote, Jefferson said he expects convention attendees to vote on the question as well.

The state GOP’s 2022 support policy was approved by the party’s executive committee in December and stipulates that by March 15, candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general will receive at least $300 in campaign donations from at least 300 individual donors. 50,000 – not including contributions from candidates, their immediate families or most political action committees. Candidates for governor or US Senate must raise at least $100,000 from at least 1,000 individual donors.

The party’s executive committee will determine the full list of names to be included in the support ballot in the coming weeks.

Lieutenant governor candidate Ben Voelkel, a former senior aide to Johnson, said he thinks it’s a mistake to limit the number of candidates able to speak at the convention, which will include hundreds of people. of county representatives from all over Wisconsin.

Nicholson told the state Republican Party in February that he was not seeking an endorsement and urged the party not to endorse any candidate before the primary. However, he later said that according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, delegates consider adding his name to the ballot of support.

Nicholson reiterated in a statement to supporters on Friday that he opposes the state party’s endorsement process, but said he has asked that his name be included on the ballot for the “no support” option.

The party used to allow a “no endorsement” option, but this was dropped in 2009. Candidates must secure 60% of the delegates’ votes to receive support.

Jonathan Wichman began his campaign for governor almost two years ago before moving on to the lieutenant governor race in February.

Wichman, who has also been invited to speak at the state convention, said the fundraising requirement ensures that each candidate on the endorsement ballot has proven their ability to be viable in a statewide election.

“The people who are making the biggest stink about it are the ones who didn’t deserve or didn’t get enough support,” he said. “They understand (a party support) is a bonus. I think they are creating a big stink because they haven’t got enough traction.”