Leah Vukmir beat Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate on Tuesday — and she came out swinging against incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D), whom she hopes to unseat in November.
Vukmir won with 49 percent of the vote to Nicholson’s 42.9 percent, after a hard-fought race.
Nicholson is a businessman and retired Marine who cast himself as an outsider. He was ahead in the polls for months, and had a cash advantage: His backers outspent Vukmir’s camp by as much as $8 million.
FreedomWorks for America, the Club for Growth, and Tea Party Patriots all endorsed Nicholson, along with Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah).
Vukmir, a retired nurse who served 15 years in the Wisconsin Legislature, caught up with Nicholson in polling by mid-July. She reminded voters of Nicholson’s past support of abortion and his position as president of the College Democrats of America 20 years ago.
The Wisconsin Republican Party, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) all backed Vukmir.
Both candidates voiced strong support for President Donald Trump throughout the race, but the president did not make an endorsement. Then last week, a video of Vukmir appearing to criticize Trump in 2016 was leaked online, prompting a sparring match between the opponents.
After the race was called for Vukmir on Tuesday night, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Nicholson had accepted the results and vowed to fight for Vukmir in her battle against Baldwin.
In her victory speech, Vukmir took aim at the incumbent Democrat, saying, “Tammy Baldwin has forgotten about the people of this great state and come November this nurse, this mom with a cause is going to send Tammy Baldwin back to the private sector she doesn’t even know exists.”
Baldwin didn’t let Vukmir’s attack go unanswered.
In a statement, the senator told the Journal Sentinel, “Wisconsinites want someone who will be in their corner and stand up to powerful special interests in Washington, not a bought-and-paid-for senator. Leah Vukmir has a long record of putting her corporate special interest backers ahead of hardworking Wisconsin families, making the choice clear this November.”
The latest polling data reported by RealClear Politics shows Baldwin ahead of Vukmir by an average of 13 points.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker easily won his primary race for governor against Robert Meyer.
Tony Evers, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, won the Democratic nomination for governor in a crowded field, with eight contenders.