No endorsements in top statewide GOP primaries

Republican primaries in August will decide the GOP nominees for governor and attorney general.

But none of the primary candidates will get to brag about the ovcial Republican Party endorsements.

That’s because GOP activists attending the recent state Republican Party convention in Middleton declined to endorse.

They also rejected resolutions calling for the decertification of the 2020 election results and the removal of Robin Vos, R-Rochester, as Assembly speaker.

And they split on whether they want Donald Trump to run for president in 2024.

Delegates approved endorsing U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in his reelection bid and Orlando Owens for state treasurer. Johnson is unopposed for the GOP nomination, while John Leiber didn’t get into the treasurer race until mid-April and didn’t seek to be put into the endorsement process.

In the contested races, candidates need the support of 60 percent of delegates to secure the endorsement.

The final ballot in the contested races were: • Governor: Rebecca Kleefisch, 54.6 percent; no endorse ment, 42.8 percent; Tim Ramthun 2.6 percent. Kevin Nicholson and Tim Michels were eliminated on the first ballot as each got less than 3.5 percent of the vote.

• Lt. Governor: Pat Testin, 45.9 percent; no endorsement, 44.7 percent; Will Martin 9.4 percent.

• Attorney General: Eric Toney, 53.8 percent; Adam Jarchow, 27.2 percent; no endorsement, 19 percent.

• Secretary of State: Amy Loudenbeck, 54.3 percent; Jay Schroeder, 24 percent; no endorsement, 21.6 percent. Meanwhile, a straw poll found that 43 percent of party activists wanted Trump to run for president in 2024. Some 32 percent were opposed to him running again, while 22 percent said they were unsure. With Trump in the field, nearly 38 percent said they back Flor ida Gov. Ron DeSantis for president, while 32 percent supported the former president. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was a distance third at just more than 7 percent.

Most observers had eyes on the gubernatorial endorsement process.

Between serving as lieutenant governor for eight years and the work she's put in with the grassroots since leaving ovce in ear – ly 2019, Kleefisch was viewed as the frontrunner for the party's endorsement.

The question was whether she could pull together enough support to cross the 60 percent threshold.

Kleefisch declared victory afterward and rebuued the sugges tion the result was a setback. She added her campaign continues to break fundraising records for a challenger after she raised $3.3 million during the final four months of 2021.

“I am proud to have the support of the grassroots of Wiscon- sin. What you all saw in there was just the beginning," Kleefisch said after the vote.

On the first ballot, state Rep. Tim Ramthun received 5.1 per cent of the vote, while business consultant Kevin Nicholson was at 3.1 percent and construction exec Tim Michels was at 2.8 percent.

The no endorsement option received 36.4 percent.

Only Kleefisch and Ramthun advanced to the second ballot. Ramthun received 2.6 percent in that round, while 42.8 percent supported the no endorsement option.

Ramthun heralded the vote, saying it allows the primary process to play out with voters, not just party activists. “The people win,” he said. The convention kicked ou Saturday morning with a debate over whether to include no endorsement as an option. Delegates rejected an euort to pull no endorsement from the options on each ballot in the process.

Nicholson and Michels also touted the vote. Nicholson, who encouraged delegates to vote for no endorsement, called it a “win for the people of Wisconsin.” A Michels adviser said the campaign had expected Kleefisch to receive the party's endorsement on the first ballot, adding it will take "an outsider” to beat Dem Gov. Tony Evers.

For more, visit The Capitol Report is written by the editorial sta at Wis, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Copyright © WisPolitics.

June 1, 2022