State Senator Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate today. Vukmir, a practicing nurse, was first elected to public office in 2002 winning a seat in Wauwatosa to the state Assembly. In 2010, Vukmir defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Jim Sullivan.
Vukmir launched her campaign today with a video, “Wisconsin Way.”
“The Wisconsin Way is never giving up,” Vukmir said in the video. “We’re fighters in this state. It’s working hard and making Wisconsin a better place for our children and our grandchildren.”
In the video, Vukmir explained how questioning the reading curriculum in her daughter’s class led to her getting involved in politics as an education reform activist.
“It was because I dared ask a question in my daughter Elena’s kindergarten classroom,” Vukmir said. “I dared to question the reading practices that were being used. And for asking that question I was literally sent to the principal’s office.”
Vukmir said she began to attend school board meetings and writing letters to the editor. “I formed a coalition, a small group of parents,” Vukmir said. “And together we started to make change in education.”
Shortly after that, Vukmir first ran for the state Assembly.
Vukimr also said that she was proud to “stand shoulder to shoulder” with Governor Scott Walker to support Act 10. “It wasn’t easy,” she said in the video. “But it was the right thing to do.”
Contrasting herself with her opponent in the Republican primary, Kevin Nicholson, without mentioning him by name, Vukmir said, “I am the only clear, consistent conservative in the race. I have a track record that people know.”
Nicholson, a businessman from Delafield, is a former Democrat who has never held public office. running as a political outsider, Nicholson claims he switched parties in 2008 when he voted for Senator John McCain for president.
In the press release, Vukmir returned to the theme of being a “proven” conservative. “The Senate desperately needs someone who will never back down — a proven, consistent conservative who understands the type of determination it takes to finish the job,” Vukmir said in the release.
Vukmir is generally perceived to be from the conservative wing of the Republican Party. She is a pro-life candidate who has received the endorsement of both Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin in her previous runs for office. In her last run for state Senate, Vukmir also signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge from Americans for Tax Reform. She is also known for her opposition to the Unfair Sales Act, the state’s minimum markup law.
The Republican primary election is in August 2018. The winner of the Republican primary will face U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.
Nicholson and Vukmir are the only declared Republicans in the race. Eric Hovde, a businessman who finished second in the Senate primary to former Governor Tommy Thompson in 2012, is also reportedly considering a run. However, Hovde closed his 2012 Senate campaign earlier this year.