A proven conservative for US Senate

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. I’ve been waiting a long time to be able to cast a vote for Leah Vukmir (I don’t live in her district). Here you go:

There is still a little time for additional candidates to jump in, but it looks like there will be two Republicans vying for the right to challenge incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Republican primary voters will choose between Kevin Nicholson and State Sen. Leah Vukmir on Aug. 14. I will be delighted to cast my vote for Vukmir for the first time in her storied political career. It isn’t even a close call.

Vukmir is a career registered nurse who was compelled to run for the Wisconsin Assembly in 2002 with a passion for education. It is a passion that has never diminished. Vukmir has been a staunch advocate for education reform and school choice throughout her time in office. In 2006, she almost single-handedly rescued the expansion of the Milwaukee School Choice program by battling other Republicans to get it passed.

For the past 16 years, Vukmir has been at the epicenter of Wisconsin’s conservative movement pushing for smaller, more efficient, more effective government. In 2010, Vukmir was elected to the State Senate as Scott Walker was elected governor. Vukmir has been a powerful ally of Walker in Wisconsin’s conservative revolution. She voted to expand the exercise of our gun rights. She voted for tax cuts. She voted to protect the unborn. She voted for welfare reform. She voted for cutting back regulations. She fought for right-to-work even when many of her fellow Republican legislators opposed it. She pushed to end the corrupt Government Accountability Board.

Amongst her lengthy list of conservative accomplishments, Vukmir singles out her steadfast advocacy for, and defense of, Act 10 as one of her proudest achievements — and rightfully so. Act 10 was transformative for Wisconsin and faced a withering onslaught from entrenched special interests. Vukmir stood firm in the Legislature and in public.

Beyond Vukmir’s very public actions, she has also been tireless in supporting conservatism behind the scenes. For years, it has been common to find Vukmir working in Republican offices around the state helping get other conservatives elected. She has always been willing to show up and do the grunt work of working the phones, stuffing envelopes, or whatever else was needed to move the ball forward.

The reason it is easy for conservatives to supportVukmir is because she is one of us. She has been one of us for decades and has been a leader in the Wisconsin conservative movement. Furthermore, she went to Madison with her conservative beliefs and has been an effective leader who advanced mountains of conservative legislation into law. It is not an exaggeration to say that Vukmir has been one of the most important conservatives in Wisconsin in the past 20 years.

Nicholson also touts his conservative beliefs. After years of being a paid activist liberal Democrat, Nicholson went to war and returned a conservative. In 2002, when Vukmir was first elected to office as a conservative, Nicholson was still being paid to work for Democratic candidates in Minnesota. In 2005, the year before Vukmir helped save the Milwaukee School Choice program, Nicholson was living in North Carolina as a registered Democrat. Nicholson’s parents have donated to Baldwin’s campaign.

One must take Nicholson’s battlefield conversion to conservatism at face value. Certainly, many people have made the transition from liberal to conservative as they gain the wisdom that comes with age and experience. I welcome Nicholson into the conservative movement with open arms. We have a big tent. But now Nicholson is running for one of Wisconsin’s two seats in the United States Senate and he does not have any actual track record of conservative achievement to evaluate.

So far, Nicholson has proven to be an articulate spokesman for conservatism, but only since he began running for the U.S. Senate. Where was he during the battle for Act 10? Where was he when the Wisconsin Legislature was passing concealed carry? Where was his advocacy for the rights of the unborn? Where was Nicholson when Republicans were battling over right-towork legislation? Where was he when Republicans were cutting taxes? Where was he when liberals were protesting Walker and Republican leaders? Where was Nicholson when school choice was being expanded statewide?

I don’t know where he was. I know exactly where Vukmir was. She was right in the thick of it.

I am eager to cast my vote for Vukmir because she is an effective, proven, conservative leader. We need more of those in the U.S. Senate.