MEMO: The State of Wisconsin’s GOP Senate Primary

Jul 31, 2018

To: Interested Parties
From: Democratic Party of Wisconsin
RE: The State of Wisconsin’s GOP Senate Primary
98 days out from Wisconsin’s November U.S. Senate election, powerful corporate special interest groups and billionaires—including Dick Uihlein, Diane Hendricks, and the out-of-state Koch brothers—have already spent more than $11 million trying to beat Tammy Baldwin—more than any other Democratic Senator up for re-election, and part of a nearly $15 million-and-counting effort to buy a U.S. Senator who will work for them.
Primary Recap: One Billionaire vs. Wisconsin Republicans
But the billionaire megadonors’ spending isn’t just directed at Baldwin. Uihlein’s focus is also on buying a GOP Senate primary for his chosen candidate, Kevin Nicholson. And two weeks ahead of the August 14 primary election, Uihlein has ensured that Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senate primary devolves into an “expensive,” “nasty,” “bitter,” and “brutal” contest that threatens to “tear apart” the party.
Unloading more than $8 million-and-counting in TV and radio ads to buy Kevin Nicholson the GOP nomination, billionaire megadonor Dick Uihlein has now turned his attention to attacking Leah Vukmir, the state Republican Party-endorsed candidate. As the Wisconsin State Journal put it, it’s a “test” of whether the state Republican party can overcome Uihlein’s massive spending for Nicholson.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. In May, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he hoped the weaker candidate would eventually drop out ahead of the primary. But Nicholson shows no sign of ending his candidacy—despite trailing Vukmir in both recent polling and in fundraising cash on hand. Nor is Nicholson heeding Johnson’s plea that he “Please do nothing to harm the other candidate.” Far from it, Nicholson has instead continued to attack Vukmir as the “insider’s insider candidate,” while slamming Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Vukmir’s other Wisconsin Republican endorsers. All while Uihlein runs more than $2 million in TV ads attacking Vukmir as a shady political insider.  
But Vukmir and her special interest backers aren’t pulling punches either: Vukmir has continued to question Nicholson’s credibility, while her super PAC blankets Wisconsin airwaves with TV ads highlighting Nicholson’s previous support for a woman’s right to choose and tying Nicholson to Hillary Clinton.
Ignoring Johnson and even former Gov. Tommy Thompson—who’s loudly sounding the alarm that Wisconsin Republicans are doomed for a repeat of 2012’s primary—Nicholson and Vukmir (and their billionaire backers) show no signs of stopping their scorched-earth tactics, all while the two candidates continue championing their megadonor backers’ corporate special interest agenda.
Special Interest Billionaires With An Agenda
Vukmir and Nicholson’s campaigns are propped up by outside and out-of-state big-money interests and billionaire megadonors with a corporate special interest agenda.
That’s why Vukmir and Nicholson back tax breaks for billionaires and large corporations like Pfizer and Wells Fargo, while supporting deep cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, which three in five Wisconsin nursing home residents count on for coverage.

It’s why Vukmir and Nicholson stand with special interests in opposing Buy American rules to make sure that our federal tax dollars are spent here in the United States, supporting American manufacturers and workers.
It’s why Vukmir and Nicholson support a Republican health care plan that the AARP says includes an “Age Tax” that would allow insurance companies to charge older people more.
And it’s why Vukmir and Nicholson back ending protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which would let insurance companies jack up prices and deny people coverage—threatening as many as 133 million Americans’ access to care.
Vukmir and Nicholson are no different when it comes to selling out to the billionaires and corporate special interests who are bankrolling their campaigns.
The Stakes this November
Meanwhile, Tammy Baldwin does right by Wisconsin—no matter what it takes, and no matter what powerful interests stand in the way.
Tammy’s been a leader on protecting healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions and in standing up to the drug companies to push for lower prices. She is working with Republicans and Democrats on Buy America requirements to use American made iron and steel and to bring jobs back from overseas. And Tammy is fighting against the opioid epidemic that has devastated so many of our communities and expanding addiction treatment for those in need.
That’s why Tammy is the top target for powerful out-of-state special interests and billionaire donors like Dick Uihlein and the Koch brothers, who have already spent more than $11 million to beat her, with millions more to come in the months ahead. They want to keep Washington working for them, not Wisconsin families.