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7 candidates, including Donald Trump, approved for Wisconsin’s presidential primary

6 Republicans and Democratic President Joe Biden will appear on the April ballot

Former President Trump leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court in New York
Former President Trump leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Trump will be booked and arraigned on charges arising from hush money payments during his 2016 campaign. Corey Sipkin/AP Photo

Former President Donald Trump has been approved to appear on Wisconsin presidential primary ballots in April despite an effort to block the GOP front-runner from competing in the state.

Wisconsin’s Presidential Preference Selection Committee, which is run by the Republican Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, voted unanimously Tuesday to approve two lists of candidates submitted by the parties.

An email from the state GOP listed six candidates that will appear on the Republican primary ballot:

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  • Former President Donald Trump
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
  • Former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy
  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
  • Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson

President Joe Biden was the only Democratic candidate approved to appear on the April primary ballot, which is common when a party’s candidate is an incumbent.

At the federal level, 99 candidates have filed papers to run for president, according to the Federal Elections Commission. Of those, 15 are running as Democratic primary opponents to Biden.

In a statement, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler said the party has “proudly endorsed” President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the election next year.

President Joe Biden visited Superior, Wis. March 2, 2022, to tout his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law with plans to begin fixing 65,000 miles of highway and 1,500 bridges this year. Robin Washington/WPR

“This election represents an existential choice between President Biden’s record of results and the chaos and extremism of the MAGA agenda,” Wikler said.

A statement from state GOP Executive Director Mark Jefferson accused the state Democratic Party of “clearing the ballot of any candidate other than Joe Biden” and called it a “glaring sign of the President’s poor standing with voters.”

“Any alternative for Democrats would likely gain significant support and embarrass the President,” Jefferson said.

In 2020, when Trump was the GOP incumbent, he was the only presidential candidate the party recommended for the primary ballot that year.

Environmental lawyer and anti-vaccine activist Robert Kennedy Jr. originally announced a Democratic primary bid against Biden in 2023, but later said he would run as an independent candidate.

Lawsuit to block Trump from ballot promised

There was no debate from representatives of either of Wisconsin’s major political parties over the primary candidates, despite an effort by the owner of a northern Wisconsin brewery to keep Trump from the ballot.

Last week, Kirk Bangstad of the Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC said he filed a complaint against Trump with the Wisconsin Elections Commission arguing the former president “disqualified himself and forfeited his right to serve as President of the United States of America” by “engaging in an insurrection against the Country he swore to protect” as he tried to overturn 2020 election results.

The commission responded with a letter stating his complaint was “disposed of without consideration by the Commission.” In a statement, Bangstad called the decision “a win for us,” which allows him to file a lawsuit against the WEC, Trump and the Republican Party of Wisconsin in Dane County Circuit Court.

The Colorado Supreme Court disqualified Trump from appearing on that state’s 2024 primary ballot because of his involvement with the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol aimed at overturning 2020 election results. The Colorado Republican Party has appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows declared a petition by Trump’s campaign to place him on the primary ballot “invalid” because he is not qualified to hold the presidency due to his campaign’s scheme to overturn the 2020 election. Bellows suspended enforcement of her order pending appeals.

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