MILWAUKEE — State Sen. Leah Vukmir has won the official endorsement of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, a key stamp of approval from the party’s grassroots heading into a primary battle with businessman Kevin Nicholson.
The vote came at the state GOP’s annual convention Saturday in Milwaukee. Vukmir, R-Brookfield, and Nicholson, of Delafield, were seeking their party’s nod to face Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.
Vukmir won the support of about 73 percent of delegates. The threshold to secure the endorsement was 60 percent.
“Let’s tell Tammy Baldwin it’s time for her to go home,” Vukmir told cheering GOP delegates after securing the endorsement.
Vukmir’s speech was really, really good. You can watch it at this link.
Nobody expected Kevin Nicholson to win, but it was uncertain whether or not Vukmir could get the super majority necessary to win the endorsement. Vukmir got an overwhelming number of votes. I’m happy to report that Washington County was the county that took her over the top.
The party endorsement tells us a couple of things. First, as expected, Vukmir is the overwhelming favorite of the party stalwarts. This makes sense because Vukmir has been working in Wisconsin for years and has built a lot of trust a loyalty within the party. Nicholson will use this to affirm his spin that “Vukmir is the establishment candidate.” The basic messaging of the candidates is well established (pardon the pun) at this point.
Second, the party endorsement actually means something in Wisconsin. This gives Vukmir access to the party apparatus, donor lists, victory centers, etc. for the primary campaign. So while Nicholson is going to run a very strong, very well financed air campaign, Vukmir will have the grassroots activists working to her benefit. Given that we are talking about a primary election, turnout of the party faithful is critical. This endorsement will have a tangible benefit for Vukmir.