Wisconsin GOP unable to reach consensus on gubernatorial endorsement

MIDDLETON, Wis. — Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates entered the state GOP convention Saturday with one question on their minds. Who would get the party’s endorsement?

The answer was a new one. Nobody would.

The move came after a heated morning debate, where delegates elected to add a “No Endorsement” option to the vote. Candidates Kevin Nicholson and Tim Ramthun had pushed for the addition.

“First and foremost I think this is a win for the people of Wisconsin,” Nicholson said. “At the end of the day, we shouldn’t have conventions impacting primaries like this.”

Pre-convention polls showed Nicholson and Ramthun trailed Tim Michels and Rebecca Kleefisch. Only Kleefisch and Ramthun made it to the final ballot to potentially earn the endorsement Saturday.

Kleefisch came the closest to grabbing the honor, but couldn’t cross the 60% threshold needed to secure the endorsement. Still, she said she is the “clear front runner” to earn her party’s nomination heading into the August 9 primary.

Kleefisch touted her role as former governor Scott Walker’s lieutenant governor and her role in the passage of the controversial Act 10 legislation.

The convention showcased signs of division within the state GOP. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was booed for saying that the state cannot overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Ultimately, it will be up to voters to decide which candidate will emerge from the fray to challenge Governor Tony Evers in November.