Former White House adviser Steve Bannon’s website Breitbart sharply criticized Wisconsin state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, for refusing to promise to vote against Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell as majority leader.
From the Breitbart article:
Stephen K. Bannon, the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News and former White House chief strategist who was the CEO of Donald Trump’s successful general election presidential campaign, met with both Nicholson and Vukmir recently. Nicholson, as his campaign confirmed to McClatchy wire service and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel among other outlets, pledged that he believes McConnell should no longer be the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Vukmir has refused to oppose McConnell for Majority Leader.
McConnell has been under increasing attack from some conservative groups after the failures to repeal/replace Obamacare.
The website also accuses Vukmir of “throwing in with the swamp” by endorsing Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, in the 2016 Republican presidential primary in Wisconsin instead of President Donald Trump. Two former Rubio advisers are also working on a political action committee supporting Vukmir’s candidacy, according to Breitbart.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, eventually won the Wisconsin primary with 48.25 percent to Trump’s 35.13 percent.
The attack from Breitbart comes right after the Bannon-supported Great America PAC endorsed Delafield businessman Kevin Nicholson for the Republican nomination in the senate race. Ironically, the Nicholson campaign is run by political consultant Chip Englander who advised the presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY. Paul has also been a no-vote on the repeal/replace of Obamacare.
Bannon and Breitbart have attempted to play in Wisconsin politics before by endorsing, and enthusiastically backing, alt-Right candidate Paul Nehlen in a primary challenge against House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI1 in 2016. Ryan easily won with 84 percent of the vote against the racist panderer Nehlen.
Nicholson’s decision to oppose McConnell has led to another national endorsement, this time from FreedomWorks for America. The organization last week called for McConnell to resign as majority leader.
Nicholson’s opposition to McConnell is a change in position. In an interview for a profile of the candidate in September, Tim Alberta of Politico asked Nicholson if he would support McConnell. “Yes, I mean — I don’t think there’s any alternative,” Nicholson said. “There’s no one else running for majority leader, so I have no issues voting for Mitch McConnell.”
Alberta says that he was contacted by a Nicholson ally to say the change of heart occurred after the failed attempt to repeal/replace Obamacare, which occurred after he interviewed Nicholson in late August. However, that still would have been after the previous attempt to repeal/replace Obamacare had failed, notes McClatchy reporter Katie Glueck.
In an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, political consultant Brian Fraley cautioned that the national endorsements might not help Nicholson all that much. “These nationally driven narratives just don’t play at the grassroots level,” Fraley said. The attacks from Breitbart are more about raising money, Fraley told the newspaper.
While Nicholson continues to rack up national endorsements, the Vukmir campaign announced Wednesday that 75 percent of the donations they have received came from within Wisconsin. In the three weeks from her announcement to when her campaign filed their first fundraising update, the campaign raised nearly $250,000.
In the last quarterly campaign finance report, Nicholson’s campaign raised $400,000. Nicholson announced his candidacy in July.
Nicholson and Vukmir are so far the only two candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the 2018 election. Businessman and former senate candidate Eric Hovde is also reportedly considering a run. The Republican primary is next August.