After leading the Republican Party through the 2011-2012 recall elections and Governor Scott Walker’s re-election in 2014, Brad Courtney is stepping down as Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW).
“After consulting my family and party leadership I have decided to step down as Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin effective March 5th, 2019,” Courtney wrote in a letter to the RPW executive committee. “We were all disappointed by November’s election results, however when Sen. Johnson asked me to stay on and continue serving as Chairman on an interim basis, I was more than willing. It has been a great honor serving the people of Wisconsin and I am forever grateful for the kindness and support of countless friends, volunteers, and elected officials.”
Courtney briefly served as party chairman in 2006-2007 before Reince Priebus became party chairman. After Priebus left to become the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Courtney became chairman again in 2011.
WisPolitics is reporting RPW First Vice-chair Andrew Hitt will be acting chair until the Executive Committee votes on a replacement. Hitt is senior counsel at Michael Best & Friedrich and the chief operating officer and partner at Michael Best Strategies.
When Mark Jefferson returned as Executive Director of the Republican Party in February, Hitt welcomed Jefferson saying the party needed to focus on the grass roots.
“Empowering grassroots will be key to restoring our success in Wisconsin,” said Hitt. “I look forward to working with Mark Jefferson we all work together to build on our successes here in Wisconsin.”
In his letter to the executive committee, Courtney thanked Governor Scott Walker for asking him to serve as party chairman in 2011.
“I want to thank Governor Walker for asking me to serve as his Chairman. Your bold initiatives have made Wisconsin the envy of the nation,” Courtney wrote. “You led the Golden Age of Conservatism in Wisconsin. Thank you for your support of the Party and your belief in me. I am so appreciative of your support of the grassroots in Wisconsin. I am so sorry we couldn’t get you a victory last November.”
Walker, a longtime friend of Courtney’s going back to Walker’s campaigns for Assembly in Wauwatosa, issued a statement Tuesday praising Courtney’s tenure.
“Brad Courtney did an incredible job as the chair of our state party! Against amazing odds, he helped us retain a Supreme Court Justice, fight off recall elections against our state senators and helped Rebecca Kleefisch and me win historic recall elections,” Walker said. “Then, he helped us win re-election, elect another Supreme Court Justice, re-elect Ron Johnson, help the Republican ticket (Trump/Pence) carry Wisconsin for the first time since 1984, keep our Republican members of Congress and grow our Republican majorities in state Legislature.”
Walker added that Courtney never forgot the need for grassroots support for the party.
“Then, he gave us plenty of support so we could show that the R doesn’t just stand for Republican – but for Reformer,” Walker said. “Wisconsin and America are better off because of Brad Courtney’s leadership.”