Vukmir gets boost with Wisconsin Senate GOP primary endorsement 

Vukmir gets boost with Wisconsin Senate GOP primary endorsement 
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Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir nabbed the endorsement of the state GOP convention on Saturday, giving her Senate primary campaign a boost.

Vukmir eclipsed the 60 percent threshold of convention delegates needed to secure the endorsement over Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson with 72 percent of the vote.

The victory does not secure her the GOP nomination, which will be decided by voters in August. But it gives her access to key party infrastructure — a boon in a state that has one of the more robust grass-roots operations — and it also serves as a useful fundraising and organizing tool.

“I want you to know that I take this very seriously, and I will represent your endorsement with the utmost of integrity,” Vukmir said upon securing the nomination. “I will represent you, and I will represent the Wisconsin way. You can count on me as I’ve always done to fight for you and our conservative principles.

“Let’s tell [Sen.] Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinConservative who's faced Kavanaugh accuser's lawyer calls her fair and reasonable Trump calls Kavanaugh accusations ‘totally political’ Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE [D] it’s time for her to go home.”

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Vukmir, who has been active in Republican politics in Wisconsin for more than two decades and has spent much of that time in the state legislature, had been a favorite to win the convention's endorsement. Her campaign sought to frame the vote as a crucial expression of the will of the GOP.

“The heart of our party, our conservative grass roots, sent a deafening message today that it is time to unify behind Leah Vukmir and focus on the task of defeating Tammy Baldwin,” Jess Ward, Vukmir's campaign manager said in a statement obtained by The Hill. “It’s time for Kevin Nicholson to respect the will of the people that have delivered Gov. [Scott] Walker and Sen. [Ron] Johnson into office time and time again, and leave the race.”

Former White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusBannon says right must support ‘RINOs’ CNN: Trump searching for Woodward sources in White House Woodward book rocks Trump White House MORE, a Wisconsin native, returned to the state Saturday to encourage delegates to back Vukmir in an effort to take on incumbent Democrat Baldwin in the fall.

“We don’t have to spend millions of dollars fighting each other, or allow millions of dollars from outside of Wisconsin to come in here and tear our candidates apart. We have a proven conservative, Christian, principled, Republican — lifelong, I might add — candidate right now who can actually beat liberal Tammy Baldwin. And her name is Leah Vukmir," he said. “There is no reason to make this Republican Party race for Senate complicated. Leah Vukmir did everything she said — never turned her back on the conservative movement. Leah Vukmir is everything we can ask for in a public servant.”

Nicholson’s camp, meanwhile, showed videos from Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump changes mean only wealthy immigrants may apply, says critic The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Viral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate MORE (R-Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThis week: Kavanaugh nomination thrown into further chaos Ex-college classmate accuses Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct Kavanaugh accuser agrees to testify next week MORE (R-Utah) on Saturday ahead of the vote, with the conservative lawmakers stressing the Marine veteran's status as a political outsider. 

Nicholson’s camp had brushed aside the importance of the vote down the stretch as the political newcomer stressed his bonafides as an outsider. His campaign argued before the vote that anything less than a blowout for Vukmir was a failure, while suggesting that the endorsement wasn't representative of the broader GOP electorate.

Vukmir and Nicholson are battling ahead of the Aug. 14 primary for the right to take on Baldwin. The general election race has already attracted millions in outside spending as it has the potential to be one of the bigger battlegrounds of 2018.