As conservative businessman and U.S. Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson sweeps up grassroots support from key organizations in Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate race, the candidate backed by the Washington establishment in Wisconsin is flailing when pressed on whether she will support Mitch McConnell for U.S. Senate Majority Leader.
State Sen. Leah Vukmir, at one time in her career a grassroots conservative who ended up aligning with the establishment over the past several years, dodged when the Associated Press asked her on Tuesday whether she would back McConnell for Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate.
According to the Associated Press—who interviewed her—“Vukmir would not say Tuesday whether she would support ousting McConnell, even though she believes ‘in some regards’ he is blocking President Donald Trump’s agenda.”
This revelation comes after Great America PAC, a key pro-Donald Trump Super PAC, has thrown its official endorsement and weight behind Nicholson in the race after Nicholson vowed to oppose McConnell continuing in his leadership position amid the Senate Majority Leader’s failure.
Stephen K. Bannon, the Executive Chairman of Breitbart News and former White House chief strategist who was the CEO of Donald Trump’s successful general election presidential campaign, met with both Nicholson and Vukmir recently. Nicholson, as his campaign confirmed to McClatchy wire service and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel among other outlets, pledged that he believes McConnell should no longer be the U.S. Senate Majority Leader. Vukmir has refused to oppose McConnell for Majority Leader.
“Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir says former presidential strategist Steve Bannon did not ask her during a meeting if she would support removing Mitch McConnell as Senate majority leader,” the Associated Press reported after interviewing Vukmir on Tuesday when the news broke of Great America PAC’s endorsements.
But Vukmir’s story is not entirely true. Breitbart News can confirm that multiple people close to Bannon asked Vukmir’s campaign staff—who confirmed they conveyed the message to Vukmir days ago at least—whether she would support McConnell. She continually refused to answer, and obviously continues to refuse to answer to this day per the Associated Press. When asked again by Breitbart News whether she would support McConnell, a Vukmir campaign official on Tuesday afternoon refused to answer the question.
Vukmir is someone who aligned closely with grassroots conservatives years ago in the battles against the left in Wisconsin when Gov. Scott Walker came under attack from union-led protests as far back as 2011. But in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, she threw in with the swamp in Washington, D.C., by supporting the pro-amnesty establishment candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) despite Rubio’s history of selling out American workers with his backing of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill. When she endorsed Rubio after her first candidate Walker dropped out, Donald Trump was the frontrunner along with Dr. Ben Carson—meaning she could have supported the president but threw in instead with someone who violated his U.S. Senate campaign promise to oppose amnesty by siding with Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, Michael Bennett, the now-indicted-and-on-criminal-trial Bob Menendez, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Jeff Flake for the open borders Gang of Eight amnesty.
To make matters worse for Vukmir, she is now—as she moves forward with her own U.S. Senate bid—throwing in with ex-Rubio staffers. Ex-Rubio campaign officials Alex Conant and Terry Sullivan are, per a recent Associated Press report, working for an outside group in Wisconsin to try to elect Vukmir to the U.S. Senate. “Alex Conant and Terry Sullivan, who worked on Rubio’s presidential campaign, are also advisers” to a group led by an ex-Walker staffer backing Vukmir, Wisconsin Next PAC, the Associated Press reported in early October.
Conant, who was Rubio’s communications director on both his presidential campaign and in his U.S. Senate office during the Gang of Eight bill effort, is a particularly dangerous operative for Republicans to associate with—given his history of providing inaccurate information to the public to push for amnesty for illegal aliens. A Vukmir campaign representative would not comment when asked about whether she approves of all of Conant’s work pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens when he worked for Rubio—who she endorsed in the presidential race.
The whole episode gives yet another advantage to Nicholson and puts Vukmir deeply on the defensive, as the Washington establishment around her struggles to deal with the crisis McConnell has put the Republican Party in with all his failures to pass President Trump’s agenda through the U.S. Senate.
“Kevin is prepared to support new leadership because of the Senate’s failure to pass a conservative agenda,” Nicholson spokesman Michael Antonopoulos told Breitbart News on Tuesday afternoon, redoubling down on the pledge for fresh blood in Washington, after Vukmir refused to support ousting McConnell.
Great America’s Andy Surabian, an ex-White House official who served as deputy to Bannon in the West Wing and previously ran the war room during President Trump’s campaign, told Breitbart News that Vukmir should do the right thing and oppose McConnell.
“No one is stopping Leah Vukmir from doing the right thing and following Kevin’s lead in publicly opposing Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader,” Surabian, a senior adviser to Great America Alliance, told Breitbart News on Tuesday afternoon.
The endorsement Great America made of Nicholson comes alongside endorsements the group made for Kelli Ward over establishment-backed incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in Arizona, for Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for U.S. Senate in Tennessee, for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey for U.S. Senate in West Virginia, and State Auditor Matt Rosendale for U.S. Senate in Montana.
In Tennessee and Montana, McConnell and his allies have been desperately searching for another candidate other than these anti-establishment Republican frontrunners and, in West Virginia, McConnell is backing Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV). Jenkins, an establishment candidate, is a former Democrat who supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008—and has been losing momentum significantly since national conservatives like Great America PAC and Citizens United Political Victory Fund endorsed Morrisey. Citizens United Political Victory Fund is run by President Trump’s successful general election deputy campaign manager Dave Bossie, another sign McConnell is getting the squeeze by the new, stronger, more conservative elements of the Republican Party.
But even though this episode is bad for Vukmir because she is not standing up to the swamp in Washington, D.C., it’s even worse for McConnell: the leading GOP Senate candidate, Nicholson, in a major U.S. State like Wisconsin is now openly opposed to him remaining as majority leader. And the other candidate is refusing to publicly back him, dodging whether she can support him, and saying openly however that “in some regards” McConnell is blocking the agenda of President Trump.
Of course, all of this comes on the heels of Judge Roy Moore–who openly campaigned on being supportive of replacing McConnell–won a dramatic victory on Sept. 26 over appointed incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s GOP U.S. Senate primary runoff special election. It’s only getting worse for McConnell from here.