The race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018 could be crowded and expensive. There are already three candidates considered likely to run for the chance to challenge incumbent Tammy Baldwin: Madison businessman Eric Hovde, Milwaukee area business consultant and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson and State Senator Leah Vukmir. Most observers consider Nicholson and Vukmir as locks. Hovde is expected to decide by fall.
Additionally, as many three other state legislators are said to be considering running for the nomination. Media Trackers has learned that a new potential candidate from Northeast Wisconsin has surfaced in recent weeks and her impact on the shape of the race could be significant.
Her name is Nicole Schneider. She is the daughter-in-law of the late Donald Schneider, former head of the Green Bay-based Schneider National Trucking company. Nicole Schneider is Research Officer for Green Bay Area Catholic Education, Inc(GRACE). From the GRACE website:
Schneider holds an M.S. and Ph.D. in Social Policy and Management from Brandeis University. In addition, she earned an M.S.S.W from Columbia University and a B.S.W. from Loyola University in Social Work. Her prior experience in nonprofit administration and with educational institutions positions her well to support the GRACE mission. Nicole and her husband, Paul are members of Resurrection Parish and have two children at Father Allouez Catholic School and two children at Notre Dame Academy.
Media Trackers reached out to Schneider after hearing her name mentioned as a potential senate candidate. We asked whether she could confirm or deny that she was considering a run. Her email response, while not committing to a run, has the trappings of a campaign announcement:
I am a life-long Wisconsin resident. I care deeply about the residents of Wisconsin and have spent the past 2 decades working towards helping to improve the lives of people in my community, whether that be in social services, health/health care or education. I have always considered myself a public servant and I continue to be interested in different ways that I can use my knowledge and experience in public policy to improve the lives of others.
Schneider’s name surfaces in the senate race as Schneider National is about to issue an initial public offering of stock. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported last week that members of the Schneider family, according to a document filed Friday with securities regulators, will get about $230 million from the IPO. One conservative political watcher described Schneider as a likely “self-funder,” if she enters the race. Another race watcher told Media Trackers: “it looks like it’s going to be an expensive primary.”
Hovde has shown that he too has the ability to self-finance a senate campaign. He poured millions of his own money into a 2012 senate primary which saw him narrowly lose to Tommy Thompson in a four-way race. If Schneider were to largely self-fund a campaign and Hovde runs again, it would put tremendous fundraising pressure on the other candidates in the field.
With as many as a half-dozen potential Republican candidates for 2018, the race is drawing unusually strong interest considering it isn’t an open seat. That may speak to the Republican belief that the Tomah VA scandal has made Baldwin vulnerable. But mid-term elections are always an uphill climb for the party in power and the Trump administration’s sluggish and distraction-filled start suggests the mid-term hill next year could be even steeper than usual.
That reality ultimately may limit the number of candidates who enter the primary field. But for now, the chance to challenge a first term senator with virtually no accomplishments on her resume is drawing plenty of interest.
UPDATE: In response to other media requests generated by our report, Schneider is offering a bit longer statement than the one she first presented to us. The notable difference here is the reference to Baldwin:
As a life-long Green Bay area resident and the mother of 4 children, I care deeply about the people of Wisconsin and the challenges facing our state and our country.
I have spent the past two decades helping improve the lives of people in my community through supporting conservative causes, working in health care, education and social services.
I believe America’s biggest challenges continue to be neglected. Career politicians have been all talk and no action. Everyone blames each other and nothing gets done. Senator Tammy Baldwin has spent her entire life advancing her own political career first in Madison and then in Washington. Clearly, Washington is broken and I believe Senator Baldwin is part of the problem.
Wisconsin needs a strong, conservative voice that truly represents the people living and working here. We need someone who will get things done.
As for me, I will continue my efforts to make Wisconsin a better place to live, work and retire. My family and I are examining options to become more politically active and to champion the conservative causes we believe in.