During their annual convention on Saturday, Wisconsin Republicans for the first time rejected a long-standing tradition to endorse a candidate in the primary race for governor. A candidate in Wisconsin needs 60 percent of the vote to win the party’s endorsement. The exercise is meant to signal to voters which candidates are most competitive, and determine which candidate will receive party funds for the rest of the primary and general election.
All of the candidates—former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Tim Michels, former Marine Kevin Nicholson, State Rep. Timothy Ramthun and business owner Adam Fischer—had twelve minutes to address delegates before voting.
Forty-five percent of votes cast by about 1,500 delegates chose the option of “no endorsement” amid growing criticism of the state’s Republican establishment.
The frontrunner, former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, received 55 percent of delegates’ votes, far more of the vote share than any other candidate, but shy of the 60 percent threshold required to win the GOP jackpot.
“Guys, I’m declaring victory,” she told reporters afterward anyway. “When you take a look at the numbers in there, I won the majority. I am proud to have the support of the grassroots of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, but what we saw in there was just the beginning.”
Voter fraud hawk Tim Ramthun led a behind the scenes effort to block Kleefisch from winning the endorsement, a Wisconsin source with knowledge of the situation told American Greatness.
“He encouraged others to vote “no endorsement” over himself and blocked Rebecca Kleefisch from oodles of dollars,” the source said.
Kleefisch, who is backed by former Governor Scott Walker, has already raised close to $5 million for her campaign war chest.
During his convention speech, Ramthun said the race for governor shouldn’t be all about money or a “popularity contest.”
“The process for each individual should be objective, not subjective,” he told the crowd. “It shouldn’t be a popularity contest. It shouldn’t be about who’s turn it is to be in the seat. It shouldn’t be about money. It should be about qualifications and character.”
The assemblyman told the GOP faithful that he would continue to pursue “truth and transparency” in regards to the 2020 election so Wisconsinites can feel comfortable about voting in future elections.
“Election integrity is the number one issue in this state,” Ramthun said. “Our election was stolen in 2020,” he added to cheers from the crowd.
“I want the confidence back for our people. I want it for myself. I don’t have it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the delegates that the results of the 2020 election could not be decertified, prompting loud boos from the crowd. About a third of the Republican delegates voted to oust Vos, and 40 percent supported a resolution to decertify the 2020 election.
About 36% of convention delegates voted to approve a resolution calling for Vos to resign or be removed from his position as speaker. Forty percent supported a resolution to decertify the 2020 election, which has been deemed by legal scholars and constitutional attorneys to be impossible even as Trump continues to say otherwise.
A poll released last week by the nonprofit group, Milwaukee Works, gave Michels a slight edge over Kleefisch, with 27 percent of the respondents backing him if the primary were held now, and 26 percent going with Kleefisch.
Nine percent said they would vote for Nicholson, who lost the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2018, and six percent favored Ramthun.