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La Crosse GOP straw poll heavily favors Vukmir for Senate



It’s just one straw poll, but it might show the challenges Kevin Nicholson faces winning the hearts and minds of Republican Party regulars.

The La Crosse County GOP straw poll conducted at the party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner on Friday favored state Senator Leah Vukmir by a roughly 2-to-1 margin (66 percent to 34 percent) over Nicholson in the party’s U.S. Senate primary race.

The winner of the Republican primary faces Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the fall.

Major donors in the state have been dumping millions of dollars into the race since last year, backing either Vukmir or Nicholson.

Nicholson has vocally supported Trump policies, while Vukmir has aligned herself with Wisconsin Gov. Scot Walker.

Vukmir is the establishment candidate backed by many state politicians, as evidenced by results of the La Crosse poll.

Nicholson is the big money raiser challenging that establishment. He’s collected twice as much direct financial support as Vukmir and has the backing of some major donors and super PACs.

Nicholson is backed by billionaire Richard Uihlein, who has spent $20 million to back conservatives in races across the country.

In March of last year, according to the New York Times, a new Uihlein-backed PAC, Solutions for Wisconsin, announced that Mr. Uihlein had contributed $2 million to support a Senate run by Mr. Nicholson. In all, according to a recent Democratic Party analysis, spending by Uihlein-funded groups in favor of Mr. Nicholson and against Ms. Baldwin exceeds $5.4 million.

Uihlein has given nearly $16 million since 2017 to eight groups that are supporting Nicholson in the Republican primary.

Spending by the groups Uilhein supports has helped make the Senate race the most expensive in the country so far.

As for direct campaign contributions, Baldwin has raised $17.19 million and spent $9.5 million of that. Nicholson has raised $2.3 million and spent $1.5, while Vukmir has raised $1.23 million and spent $592,000, as of March 31.


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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. clyde fromona

    April 30, 2018 at 10:51 am

    As an observer of the poll voting after the event ended, many who were wearing Leah stickers on their lapels, looked at the selection of yard signs as leaving and asked, don’t you have any Nicholson signs?

    So the straw poll may have been closer than revealed.

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