Monday, May 14, 2012

Wisconsin GOP convention fails to endorse a candidate

One of the things that makes politics so interesting, and confusing, is that different states have different ways of doing things. In Wisconsin, the Republicans have a convention to determine whether or not they will endorse a candidate for the GOP Senate nomination in a state-wide primary that takes place a few months later. If a candidate at the convention gets 60% of the delegate's vote, he or she gets the party endorsement, which is like a stamp of approval and, no doubt, very helpful when primary day rolls around.

Some states have conventions to nominate their candidate for the general election. Wisconsin Republicans get together just to decide who they like prior to the primary to select their candidate.

Unfortunately, when Wisconsin Republicans got together this past weekend, they couldn't manage to give any one candidate the required 60%, which would have provided an actual party endorsement.

Instead, State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald ended up with a narrow win of 51.5% to 48.5% over former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson was well behind on the second ballot, taking him out of contention for the party's endorsement.

This doesn't mean anything is settled, nor would the matter have been settled if an endorsement have been achieved. It only means that anyone who wants to run in the primary can do so with, perhaps, a little better understanding of how their party feels about them.

And, as I said, no one got 60%, so no one got an endorsement. In fact, the race was so close between Fitzgerald and Neumann that things seem well up in the air.

It is important to mention that most of the support from failed candidates went to Fitzgerald on the second and third ballot, so depending on whether or not Thompson and businessman Eric Hovde stay in the race until August or the extent to which their support shifts to a stronger candidate may have an impact on the outcome.

Having said that, we should note that Thompson was targeted by the Club for Growth as too moderate, which could work in his favour if other more conservative candidates split their vote.

The move to the right may sound familiar, but Wisconsin is not Indiana and the seat they are contesting will last have been held by a Democrat, Herb Kohl. In other words, they may want to be careful how hard to the right they push things.

The primary elections for House and Senate races will be held on Aug. 14, 2012.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Rep. for Wisconsin's 2nd Congressional District.

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