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Op-Ed: Let the Voters of Wisconsin Decide

By: Kevin Nicholson

Our current trajectory – as a state and as a society – is not sustainable.  Everything feels off-kilter – from education to our safety, to the questions so many have about election integrity. But it is going to take people from outside the political class who have the fortitude to address the challenges our state faces.

We need universal school choice and mandatory minimums for bail and for sentencing for violent charges and violent convictions, and it is past time to get rid of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, transfer election oversight to the Secretary of State, and rewrite the laws to make it clear that – no matter who serves as Secretary of State – there will be no ballot harvesting, ballot drop boxes, or Zuckerbucks in Wisconsin.

First, however, we need to elect a Republican Governor in Wisconsin – and to accomplish that monumental task, the conservative movement in our state needs to break free of Madison political insiders and nominate a candidate from outside the political class. To that end, as a party, we must avoid creating more division within our ranks by endorsing a candidate before voters have a say. Throughout my campaign, I have been clear: the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) should not endorse candidates before voters have a chance to vote on August 9th – Primary Election Day.

While it might have started with good intentions, the party endorsement process is broken.  It fractures our voting base before the primary – which has contributed to the 11 losses that Wisconsin Republicans have suffered in the past 12 statewide general elections. When I wrote to RPW’s endorsement committee regarding the party’s endorsement process, I encouraged them to avoid applying arbitrary viability standards based on fundraising, number of donors, etc. to any candidate in any race. Unfortunately, the party ignored this advice, and declared several good candidates ‘unviable,’ heading into the May 21st convention. That’s not right.

To be frank, the RPW endorsement process is simply an opportunity for party insiders to improperly aid hand-picked insider candidates.  Instead of helping Republicans to win statewide general elections, it has helped to push favored – but unelectable – candidates through Republican primaries. And ultimately, the process has helped Democrats win office.

Fortunately, activists around the state are standing up. Resolutions have been passed by county and district Republican Party caucuses demanding that a “No Endorsement” option is on the endorsement ballot on May 21st at the RPW convention.  These county and district caucuses account for more than 60% of all delegates eligible to attend the RPW state convention. In accord with these resolutions coming from the grassroots, the RPW Rules Committee has agreed to add a “No Endorsement” option to the ballot.  While my name will also be included on that endorsement ballot (as an insurance policy in case insiders try to remove the “No Endorsement” option once on the convention floor), I will encourage all delegates to the convention to vote “No Endorsement.”

While this all sounds like inside baseball – and it is! – these are the levers that the permanent political class has used to perpetuate themselves for decades while our state and our society has fallen apart. These are the tools of the Madison insiders that I am running against.

Today, I am the only candidate in this race who can say with certainty that: 1) I can win the general election; and, 2) I am not tied to the political class through lobbyists, consultants, or government contracts. If the people of Wisconsin are serious about getting their society back on track, then I am their candidate. If they would prefer the status quo, then they have alternatives in the gubernatorial primary who will be sure to avoid rocking the boat. Those are the stakes.

I want to be clear; this issue of endorsement is not just about me or my candidacy, this is about you and your family.  We must win back the Governor’s office in November, we must reelect Ron Johnson, and we must send Republicans up and down the ballot to Washington and Madison. We cannot do this, however, if our party is fractured due to a counterproductive pre-primary endorsement process.

Simply put, the stakes are too high to cede our decision-making to insider games and Madison politics.  When I address the delegates to the Republican Party of Wisconsin on May 21st, I will say just that.  I will further encourage the delegates to not endorse any candidate before the primary, and avoid wasting the party’s time and resources on a candidate who has not been chosen by Wisconsin voters.

Then, on Primary Day, August 9th, I ask for the votes of Republican primary voters across Wisconsin who are serious about winning in November and getting our society back on track.

Kevin Nicholson is a businessman and candidate for governor of the state of Wisconsin.  He is the former volunteer president and CEO of No Better Friend Corp., a conservative public policy group in Wisconsin. A combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps (Iraq, 2007 and Afghanistan, 2008-2009) he was also a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Follow him on Twitter @KevinMNicholson.

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