U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said Friday that senate candidate Leah Vukmir has not broken the GOP unity pledge that effectively bears his name. The campaign of senate candidate Kevin Nicholson suggested Vukmir broke the pledge when she called on Nicholson to disavow Steven Bannon’s prior endorsement in a released statement:
“It was incredibly disappointing to learn of these vicious attacks by Bannon against the President and his family. After the Alabama debacle, and now this, any self-respecting Republican should question whether Steve Bannon has any role in building our party. Kevin Nicholson should disavow his endorsement.”
The Nicholson campaign issued a statement in response that seemed to imply that Vukmir’s words broke the unity pledge she had signed:
“It is disappointing that hours after Wisconsin Republicans joined together to sign a GOP Unity Pledge, that Leah Vukmir would take this moment to attack another Republican for an endorsement she herself aggressively sought.
However, in an interview with Media Tracker’s Director of Communications Jerry Bader Friday, Johnson said that he doesn’t believe Vukmir has broken the pledge:
“I don’t think so, you’re pointing out what somebody has done, or who is endorsing people. The main point is the major thrust of the campaigns ought to be what are the problems facing this nation, what are your solutions, and communicate to conservatives and Republicans how you intend to defeat Tammy Baldwin.”
“It’s still a comparison even when in a primary, in a convention battle you are going to be comparing yourself to your components, Republicans, but you don’t have to denigrate them or ruin their chances if you end up not winning the endorsement.”
Johnson also told Media Trackers more on his motivation for sponsoring the unity pledge, and its intentions of candidates running respectful campaigns with the singular goal of defeating Tammy Baldwin:
“It’s just a recognition of certainly what allowed me to win two hotly contested U.S Senate races. I think what has gotten Scott Walker elected, and re-elected twice now, or three times in total, it’s our strong grassroots effort. We witnessed in other elections when outsiders, these political experts come in, and kind of screw things up pretty significantly, it’s the strong party structure of the Republican party of Wisconsin combined with the grassroots efforts of other conservatives. We don’t have a big split between conservative and Republican party faithful, we all realize we’re pretty much on the same team. We don’t have a big split between Tea party and Republicans, we all realize we are more or less on the same page and it’s really the county grassroots structure that’s allowed us to win elections and we have to maintain that.”
“Again having traveled the state as extensively as I have, it’s just a recognition of what wins elections in Wisconsin for Republicans is our strong grassroots party structure, county chairs, all the people that work that way, and that’s why I’m hoping the candidates for Senate will do this time, and also respect the outcome of the endorsement process and the primary.”
A number of prominent conservatives and senate candidates have backed away from Bannon since a feud between President Trump and him erupted this week. The Nicholson campaign did not respond to an email from Media Trackers Friday, asking if Nicholson intended to disavow the Bannon endorsement in light of recent events.
The full interview can be found here:
*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.*