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Conservative PAC Endorses Nicholson In Wisconsin US Senate Race

Club For Growth PAC President Calls For GOP Unity In 2018 Race

Kevin Nicholson
Still image from Nicholson for Senate YouTube page. 

The conservative Club for Growth PAC has endorsed Republican Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin’s 2018 U.S. Senate race.

Nicholson, a former Marine and a former Democrat, announced his senate candidacy in July. He is the only Republican so far who has launched a challenge against incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat.

“He made it very clear that he would be one of the conservative voices in the Senate if he’s elected,” said David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth.

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The Club for Growth was active in Wisconsin’s 2012 U.S. Senate primary, when it launched multiple attack ads against former Gov. Tommy Thompson. The ads focused on Thompson’s support for the Affordable Care Act, arguing he wasn’t conservative enough.

It’s possible Nicholson has convinced Club for Growth of his conservative credentials, said Mike Wagner, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“It could also be that given how close the Senate is to letting Republicans beat back filibusters, conservative interest groups like Club for Growth want the win more than they want ideological purity,” Wagner said.

McIntosh said he knows other “good people” are going to run for the seat, but hopes Republicans will coalesce behind Nicholson.

“It’s our hope that the Republicans will unite behind Kevin, and all be united, because a challenger race against a sitting, well-funded incumbent Democrat will be hard for any Republican,” he said.

Other Republican candidates are expected to enter the race, including state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks is backing her campaign.

McIntosh disputed the idea that Club for Growth’s negative ads against Thompson cost the GOP the senate seat in 2012.

“I really think the problem (with) Gov. Thompson was he sat on his heels and didn’t engage in the campaign,” McIntosh said. “Perhaps it was a bruising primary and he felt he needed time to recover, but in politics you can’t take that time.”