WISCONSIN | WI-sen

Johnson Calls on Candidates to Commit to Backing Nominee

Vukmir added two staffers with ties to Americans for Prosperity.

Kimberly Railey
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Kimberly Railey
Jan. 3, 2018, 11:26 a.m.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R) announced a unity pledge Wednesday aimed at pushing the Republican Senate candidates to support the party's eventual Senate nominee.

The pledge also requires candidates to commit to a “respectful pursuit” of the endorsement at the GOP's convention and to wage a campaign focused on beating Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), the Republican Party of Wisconsin announced in a news release. State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) and management consultant Kevin Nicholson (R) are already in the race, while 2012 Senate candidate Eric Hovde (R) has publicly said he is considering a bid.

In exchange for signing the pledge, candidates will receive a list of potential delegates for this year’s convention so that they can begin reaching out. Johnson will serve as chairman of the “Grassroots Endorsement Process” at the convention.

A Republican familiar with the unity pledge effort said it has been in the works for months and that it was not spurred by any divisions already happening in the primary. Nicholson, for example, has picked up the backing of Steve Bannon and the Club for Growth, while Vukmir has lined up support from some associates of Gov. Scott Walker (R), including his son and former campaign manager.

“This sends a signal that things are different in Wisconsin,” the Republican said. "It is a helpful antidote to some of the divisions that you’ve seen in other states.”

To earn an endorsement at the party’s convention, a candidate must receive 60 percent of the vote. The GOP primary is Aug. 14. (Hotline reporting)

NEW FACES. Vukmir has added two senior advisers to her campaign who have previously worked for Americans for Prosperity: Luke Hilgemann and Sean Lansing.

“Hilgemann is a former chief executive officer of Americans for Prosperity, the group backed by industrialists David and Charles Koch. He also directed the group's affiliate in Wisconsin. Lansing worked as director of the group's Virginia state chapter and chief of staff and then chief operating officer for the national organization.”

In 2012, Lansing was a spokesman for Hovde, who finished second in the primary.

“Jon Kohan of Jamestown Associates is the Vukmir campaign's general consultant. Jess Ward is the campaign manager, Mattias Gugel is in charge of digital/communications and Alex Walker, the younger son of Gov. Scott Walker, is the deputy political director.” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

ON BOARD. RightNOW Women PAC endorsed Vukmir’s Senate bid. (release)

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