Wisconsin GOP Decides on 'No Endorsement' Option

Wisconsin candidates for governor will need 60% of delegates' votes
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 21, 2022 12:15 PM CDT
State GOP Agrees Candidates Need 60% to Win Endorsement
Sen. Ron Johnson, shown in February, spoke to Wisconsin Republicans on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Wisconsin Republicans agreed Saturday to have a "no endorsement" option when voting on whether to throw the party's official backing behind a candidate in the hotly contested governor's race. The top candidates in the governor's race were slated to make their pitch later Saturday for an endorsement to more than 1,500 delegates attending the annual convention near Madison, the AP reports. But first, under pressure from those who argued the party shouldn't back any candidate before the Aug. 9 primary, delegates voted to have an option of not endorsing. Winning the endorsement requires support from 60% of delegates.

The party's endorsement unlocks funding from the state party, which can then spend as much as it wants on the winner. Being united is all the more important when facing an incumbent such as Gov. Tony Evers in a race that’s a top priority for Democrats nationally. The Republican Party has endorsed candidates since 2009, including the past three governor's races. Winning that backing was crucial to US Sen. Ron Johnson's win in his first race in 2010. Johnson, who is up for reelection this year, focused his speech not on Democrats running against him but on defending his record and attacking the media. "I can’t even breathe without them taking my exhalation and distorting and twisting it," he said of the media. "My race is literally about the truth versus lies and distortion."

The gubernatorial candidates are former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who polls show is the front-runner; construction business co-owner Tim Michels; business consultant and former Marine Kevin Nicholson; and state Rep. Timothy Ramthun. Whether there is an endorsement or not, voters will decide who advances to face Evers in November. Some Republicans have called for the ouster of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for not pursuing former President Trump's false claims of election fraud vigorously enough and refusing to decertify President Biden's win. "We have no ability to decertify the election and go back," Vos said, generating loud boos from the crowd. "We need to focus on moving forward." All of the GOP gubernatorial candidates have questioned Biden's win in Wisconsin. Trump hasn't endorsed anyone in the governor's race primary.

(More Republican Party stories.)

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