Former US Marine and Wisconsin businessman Kevin Nicholson announced his campaign for US Senate today with the posting of a new video on YouTube. Nicholson is the first Republican to announce his campaign for the Republican nomination in what could be a crowded primary election in 2018. The winner will take on incumbent Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin.

“We’re all in and moving forward,” Nicholson said in an interview with RightWisconsin after the announcement. “There are huge and exponentially growing problems in our country and we need to take care of them now. We’re already behind the curve.”

“If we’re not doing something about this today, $20 trillion in debt compounding on a daily basis is finally going to start costing Americans opportunities going forward,” Nicholson said. “So here we are and I feel like this is the time to get involved and start providing solutions.”

Nicholson is a US Marine Corps veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives in Delafield with his wife and three children and is a business consultant.From the Nicholson for Senate website

Nicholson started life as a Democrat, serving as president of the College Democrats of America and he even spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. However, after growing up as a Milwaukee Democrat, Nicholson had a change of heart.

“I saw things in the Democratic Party that I didn’t like,” Nicholson said. “I saw the beginning of identity politics. People separated by the color of their skin, by their gender, pitted against each other for resources. That’s what the Democrat Party does. That’s the way they run their elections now.”

“It took me joining the Marine Corps to see this better way to treat people, treat them on the merits of their character,” Nicholson said. “I had to live life to figure that out.”

“There are plenty of people in our state who voted for Barack Obama and Scott Walker and Donald Trump,” Nicholson said. “That person exists and not in small numbers. That resident of Wisconsin is going to understand completely where I’m coming from and how I’ve made this transition over 20 years of my life and my adult experience.”

Nicholson points out that Ronald Reagan was a convert to the Republican Party, too. “The thing I point out, and I think this is true of many converts, in any way shape or form, is that you truly believe,” Nicholson said. “There’s great personal cost, sometimes pain, from leaving something and joining something new because of your philosophical beliefs.”

“Family gets upset. Friends get upset. But you do what you do because you believe it,” Nicholson said.

The first Republican candidate Nicholson supported was President George W. Bush in 2004, he told RightWisconsin.

Nicholson said the health care reform bill in the Senate “needs a lot of work.”

“Here’s my attitude: that American health care was basically decimated and completely put in a horrible position by Obamacare,” Nicholson said. “Tammy Baldwin, one of the biggest cheerleaders for it and a cheerleader for single-payer health care, which is even worse. Either way we’re in bad shape right now.”

Nicholson said that he’s worried about what will come out of the Senate at this point. “I do think we need more market forces in health care,” Nicholson said. “Consumers need more choice. That’s what’s going to lower premiums, which is what really matters to Americans, and expand choices and options in coverage. That’s what has to happen in health care.”

Nicholson also supported taking away the upcoming recess for senators so that they can complete work on the health care bill and put in more choices for coverage.

On tax reform, Nicholson said that the US corporate tax rate is unacceptable. “In a world where our companies are globally competitive, that we’re putting them behind the curve by taxing them at a higher rate than companies that compete elsewhere in the world is nuts,” Nicholson said.

“Government doesn’t create jobs, companies do,” Nicholson said. “But government could make it easier for companies to create jobs. That includes a low corporate tax rate that allows them to get money back into the United States and invest it.”

Nicholson said that if the corporate tax rate isn’t lowered, we risk more corporate inversions, merging with corporations overseas in search of a lower tax rate. He cited Johnson Controls’ merger with Tyco and moving the corporation to Ireland as an example.

But Nicholson would also cut the tax rate for the middle class. “They cannot carry the burden of all the mistakes of the federal government and all the overspending,” Nicholson said. “Our problem with our budget is a spending problem. It’s not a revenue problem.”

Nicholson said that lowering both the corporate tax rate and the personal income tax rates will encourage growth. “We need to put all of our emphasis on growth and creating opportunities for people,” he said.

In a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article, Nicholson was accused of not reacting to emails concerning problems with the King Veterans Home. Nicholson was a member of the state Department of Veterans Affairs board.

“I served in two wars, and the idea that I would come home and turn my back on veterans is patently offensive,” Nicholson said. “Accusations like this are why people hate politics and why they hate the mainstream media, frankly.”

“I know I’m going to be accused of all sorts of things during this campaign, but unlike Tammy Baldwin, I’ve actually risked my life for my fellow veterans,” Nicholson said.

Nicholson explained that when problems came to his attention, he called Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos and his successor Dan Zimmerman. “In all cases, when problems have arisen at the state DVA, they were addressed and they were dealt with,” Nicholson said.

“Look, I’m not a politician. I’m not looking to find ways to cover my butt,” Nicholson said. “My attitude is make sure this was getting fixed. And it was. And that’s what I’m going to do as a US Senator, make sure that things are actually getting fixed.”

Nicholson said if he’s elected, he’s going to “take on” the Veterans Administration “so we don’t have scandals like the one in Tomah that Tammy ignored.”