U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, (R) WI, is calling on all candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate to sign a unity pledge, committing themselves to, among other things, supporting the eventual nominee. The Republican Party of Wisconsin announced Wednesday that Johnson will act as Chairman of the Grassroots Endorsement Process at the 2018 State Convention. In that role, Senator Johnson is calling on all Republican candidates for U.S. Senate to sign a unity pledge, committing themselves to a respectful pursuit of the endorsement of grassroots conservatives at state convention and the Republican nomination, running a campaign focused on defeating Senator Tammy Baldwin, and supporting whoever the Republican nominee is when the primary is over.
Johnson released the following statement on the unity pledge and importance of maintaining the integrity of the grassroots endorsement process:
“We’ve all witnessed what happens when Washington, D.C.-based ‘political experts’ of all kinds get involved in U.S. Senate races. Here in Wisconsin, the grassroots have a track record of nominating candidates who reflect our values – not Washington’s – and we can do it again to defeat Tammy Baldwin this fall….“The stakes are simply too high to let national outsiders meddle with our proven record of success. We must always remember that we are fighting for our freedom, and it is a fight we absolutely must win.”
State Senator Leah Vukmir and Milwaukee businessman and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson are announced candidates. Madison businessman and 2012 senate candidate Eric Hovde says he is still considering a run.
Johnson didn’t name any outside groups by name, but the national Club for Growth, which is supporting Nicholson, recently called Vukmir a RINO in a fundraising email and characterized her as a big government establishment Republican for voting for items contained in two Governor Scott Walker budgets.
Here’s a closer look at what the pledge includes
Facts on the Endorsement Process & Unity Pledge:
Grassroots conservative voters from communities across Wisconsin will gather later this year at the Republican Party of Wisconsin state convention to consider whether to endorse any Republican candidate for U.S. Senate ahead of the eventual August primary. The grassroots endorsement procedure at the RPW state convention has been in place under its current structure since 2009.
Senator Johnson will serve as Chairman of the Grassroots Endorsement Process after having most recently served as Chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s state convention last year.
The unity pledge and associated agreements were approved unanimously in early December of 2017 after consideration throughout the fall by elected grassroots leaders on the Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Committee, who represent the local grassroots Republican party faithful across Wisconsin.
All candidates running will be asked to sign a pledge to conduct a campaign focused on defeating Senator Baldwin and displaying mutual respect for their Republican competitors. They will also be asked to acknowledge the existing rules and rules process for convention and agree to pursue the grassroots endorsement at state convention in a manner compliant with that process, and to support the eventual Republican nominee after the Republican primary in August.
In return for signing the pledge, candidates will have access to RPW infrastructure, including lists that will be crucial to earning the support of grassroots conservatives at convention. You can read the pledge provided to U.S. Senate candidates here.
Johnson won both of his elections in 2010 and 2016 as a political outsider backed by the party’s grassroots. This included a contested 2010 primary in which he won the endorsement of the conservative grassroots at the Republican Party of Wisconsin state convention ahead of the primary election.
Nicholson spokesman Brandon Moody, in an email to Media Trackers, said: “Kevin of course will sign the unity pledge and he hopes that all Republicans will unite behind our nominee to defeat Baldwin.”
Vukmir said in an email statement: “I’m proud to sign the Wisconsin GOP unity pledge. As a lifelong Republican, I’ve always supported the party nominee and you can bet I’ll be doing everything I can this November to make sure Wisconsin has a Senator who believes in the Wisconsin Way. Senator Johnson certainly understands that the grassroots are the core of Wisconsin’s Republican Party, a focus I have built my candidacy on.”
*In light of Dick Uihlein’s contributions to a Super Pac supporting Kevin Nicholson’s Senate run, we feel it necessary when covering the Senate race to disclose that we receive funds from the Ed Uihlein Foundation for the Media Trackers project.*