Wisconsin Republican Convention: Party Won’t Endorse in Statewide Primaries

The Republican Party of Wisconsin held its annual convention last weekend (May 20-22) in Middleton. Elected officials, party leaders, and activists gathered to hear speeches, meet candidates, and vote on a slate of potential endorsements in contested primary elections.

Candidates seeking the state party’s official endorsement needed the support of 60 percent of party delegates on the final ballot at convention. This year, the party has at least two candidates running for each statewide partisan office.

The delegates voted to endorse U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) as he seeks reelection to a third term. Sen. Johnson does not have a primary opponent. The party also voted to endorse Orlando Owens for state treasurer; candidate John Lieber, who entered the race in mid-April, did not seek the party’s endorsement.

Other than Owens, no statewide Republican candidate will have the party’s endorsement for Wisconsin’s August 9 primary. No candidate secured 60 percent of delegates on the final ballot in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

Vote totals from the final ballot of party delegates were as follows:

  • Governor
    • Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch: 54.6%
    • No endorsement: 42.8%
    • State Rep. Tim Ramthun: 2.6%
  • Lieutenant Governor
    • State Sen. Pat Testin: 45.9%
    • No endorsement: 44.7%
    • Will Martin, former workforce development official: 9.4%
  • Attorney General
    • District Attorney Eric Toney: 53.8%
    • Former State Rep. Adam Jarchow: 27.2%
    • No endorsement: 19%
  • Secretary of State
    • State Rep. Amy Loudenbeck: 54.3%
    • Jay Schroeder (investor and previous candidate): 24%
    • No endorsement: 21.6%

Some party activists advocated for the no endorsement option at convention, including many supporters of gubernatorial candidates Kevin Nicholson and Tim Michels. In the first round of balloting, each candidate received about three percent of the votes.

Along with the endorsement votes, delegates voted against resolutions calling for decertification of the 2020 election results and for the removal of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) from his leadership post.

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