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Leah Vukmir Surrounds Herself with Never Trump Staff, Supporters

Wisconsin state Sen. Vukmir launches GOP bid for US Senate Photo
Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via AP
Washington, D.C.

Leah Vukmir, a candidate for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin against pro-Trump businessman and Marine Kevin Nicholson, has made the decision to surround herself with opponents of President Donald Trump from the so-called Never Trump movement.

At least three of her staffers have very publicly declared allegiance to Never Trump, and regularly tweet or have tweeted harsh rightwing criticisms of the president.

The candidate herself and one of her staffers back in 2015 mocked supporters of now-President Trump as “Trumpkins,” and her staffers have by and large declared their allegiance to “Never Trump.” Not only that, staffers have made comments bashing Fox News host Sean Hannity, propping up then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly, questioning the judgment of Donald Trump, Jr., wishing Trump would be knocked out of the presidential race, and criticizing Trump even long after he became president.

After the publication of this article, and without returning a request for comment sent to the campaign manager Jess Ward, two of the Vukmir staffers exposed for their Never Trump allegiances–Ward herself and Mary Beth Gahn, the chief fundraiser for Vukmir–turned their Twitter accounts to private. Breitbart News has added screen shots of the Vukmir team members’ anti-Trump tweets into this story so readers can see them even though both Gahn and Ward made their accounts private to hide their comments about the president from the public.

For instance, Vukmir fundraiser Mary Beth Gahn has tweeted her allegiance to Never Trump nearly a dozen times:

Gahn even one time tweeted accusations at President Trump that the president wanted to have sexual relations with Princess Diana:

If her allegiance to the Never Trump movement was not clear, Gahn made it very clear when she responded to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin saying in 2016 that Never Trump Republicans are “either with us or against us”:

In response to the Access Hollywood tape’s release on Oct. 8, 2016, Gahn made very clear she was never going to vote for Trump anyway:

Then there is one, from just days before Trump’s inauguration after Trump defeated Clinton, where Gahn says she is unsure if she could stay in the country anymore with Trump as president:

Gahn is no low-ranking staffer for Vukmir. She is listed as the point-of-contact for a number of major Vukmir fundraising events, including one with House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan, who abandoned Trump on the campaign trail after the Access Hollywood tape’s release, was heard telling House Republicans on a secret audiotape later obtained and published by Breitbart News in a blanket statement not just related to the Access Hollywood tape but on all matters that he was “not going to defend Donald Trump—not now, not in the future.”

According to the local news, Gahn is published as the RSVP contact for Vukmir’s campaign fundraiser on July 6 with Ryan.  That pricey fundraiser charged $5,400 per couple to be a “platinum host,” $2,700 per couple to be a “gold host,” and $1,000 per couple to be a “silver host.” Just to get in the door to see Ryan and Vukmir, interested attendees had to RSVP to the Never Trump Gahn with a $250 per person general admission ticket price.

In addition to being one of the world’s leading Never Trumpers with clear access to the highest levels of the Republican Party and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan, Gahn also happens to be the Vukmir staffer who further worsened a scandal broken by Breitbart News late last week about which kind of car Vukmir drives. Vukmir claimed in a fundraising letter that she signed that she drives a “Ford,” and her campaign blurred out the steering wheel logo of her car’s make in a campaign video that shows Vukmir driving. It turns out, as Breitbart News discovered, Vukmir actually drives a Toyota—not a Ford. The candidate would later go on local radio in Wisconsin, and during a town hall Friday morning in which she faced off against Nicholson, to claim the Toyota versus Ford discrepancy was due to a “typo.” Her campaign has still not explained why it blurred the Toyota logo in the video it released, and has also not explained how it could misspell the word “Toyota” as “Ford.”

But, it was Gahn who—before Vukmir admitted the mistake on the campaign trail—tweeted that she had driven the car in question and that it was indeed a Ford not a Toyota. Gahn has since, after publication by Breitbart News, deleted that erroneous tweet after in the second Breitbart News exclusive Vukmir’s campaign manager Jess Ward admonished her in a statement. “Mary Beth Gahn is grossly mistaken, and if she was driving a Ford, it was not Leah’s,” Ward said in part, after admitting that Vukmir does drive a Toyota not a Ford.

While Gahn deleted the tweet claiming she had driven Vukmir’s non-existent Ford, Breitbart News has helpfully screen-grabbed it so it can last in eternity:

Gahn, however, has not deleted her Never Trump tweets–which were all public when Vukmir hired her, and remain public, on her Twitter account to this day.

Nor have most of Vukmir’s other staffers, most of whom have also publicly pledged allegiance to the Never Trump ideology.

After Trump was the GOP nominee for president, Vukmir communications director Matthias Gugel tweeted that he would not even vote for Trump over the Supreme Court:

He made a similar comment during the GOP convention in 2016:

Gugel said during the Wisconsin primary, while he was in the voting booth, that he wished Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)–the pro-amnesty establishment-backed anti-Trump candidate–was still in the race, but that he voted for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) because “Trump is not inevitable”:

Gugel made many more comments critical of now President Trump and his supporters as well:

And at one point he cited Charlie Sykes, the vehemently Never Trump Wisconsin radio host who has since left his show, as saying his vote for Cruz was because he is “more anti-Trump than I am pro-Cruz”:

Like many leftists and other Never Trumpers, Gugel also criticized Trump University and Trump’s business acumen:

This one is from October 2012:

He also said building of the “Trump empire” required “destruction of the republic,” comparing Trump to the Evil Empire in Star Wars:

Gugel’s hatred of Trump appears to date all the way back to 2011, when he tweeted he did not want Trump as a candidate in the 2012 elections either:

Trump had briefly flirted with a potential run for the presidency in 2012, but ended up not running until 2016. In 2012, establishment Republican Mitt Romney–the former governor of Massachusetts who has this year carpet-bagged his way into the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in Utah–lost miserably to Democrat Barack Obama, who cruised to re-election as Romney and his pal running mate Ryan failed to even flip but two states Obama won in 2008.

Gugel’s criticisms of Trump did not stop there. He even at one point highlighted now disgraced former Fox News anchor then Never Trump hero Megyn Kelly’s criticisms of her then Fox News colleague Sean Hannity:

It’s not the only time Gugel touted Kelly’s nastiness towards Trump and his supporters:

He also criticized Hannity directly:

And Gugel questioned the judgement of Donald Trump, Jr, President Trump’s eldest son, when Trump, Jr., talked about what kind of president his father would be at the GOP convention in Cleveland in 2016:

Gugel also bashed Christians and Evangelicals for supporting Trump in 2016, saying the President did not “deserve” their support:

And mocked Trump’s infamous taco bowl tweet:

He has, since back then during the election, attempted to smooth things over and tweeted out a handful of nicer things about the president:

But Gugel’s litany of Never Trump tweets, which like Gahn’s continued even after Trump won the GOP nomination, remain published and there has been no apology or walk-back from him over them to this point. What’s more, these were all public–like they were with Gahn–when Vukmir made the determination to hire Gugel as her campaign’s communications director.

But it does not end there. Not only are Gugel and Gahn clearly Never Trumpers that Vukmir decided to hire in key roles as respectively communications director and finance director for her campaign, the candidate herself took a shot in 2015 at supporters of President Trump.

Vukmir, in two tweets on Sept. 29, 2015, derided supporters of President Trump as “Trumpkins.” The term comes from devout Never Trumper Charlie Sykes, who Vukmir gives credit for coining the term in both tweets:

In the second tweet, she even praises Sykes saying the Never Trump leader should trademark the term “Trumpkins” including a symbol for doing so:

In case there is any ambiguity about what Vukmir and Sykes meant by “Trumpkins,” the person Vukmir hired as a fundraising and finance associate on her 2018 Senate campaign Cate Dillon cleared that up in a Facebook posting on Oct. 20, 2015, showing a literal “Trumpkin”–a pumpkin with a picture of Donald Trump taped on the front wearing a white Make America Great Again “MAGA” hat:

Dillon made it very clear in a 2016 interview with Wisconsin Public Radio where she stood on Donald Trump becoming president: “I would not like to see Donald Trump be the nominee so I think it would be better for Sen. Cruz to be our nominee.”

Sykes himself has also taken the term on tour, bashing supporters of President Trump as “Trumpkins”–slamming them for their support for the president on many occasions. “It’s the people who don’t care that he’s lying. It’s what he unleashes that bothers me,” Sykes defined the term “Trumpkins,” according to Politico.

Never Trump leader Cheri Jacobus, who was fired from USA Today, uses the term repeatedly on Twitter to deride Trump supporters:

There are literally dozens upon dozens of Jacobus tweets bashing Trump supporters as “Trumpkins.”

While Vukmir thought of Trump supporters as “Trumpkins” back in 2015 and 2016, now that he is president she considers herself one of them. In fact, she campaigns around Wisconsin wearing a “TRUMP” pin on her lapel:

And she even occasionally flashes a Trump-style thumbs-up while wearing the Trump pin:

Even though she now claims to support the president, here’s what Vukmir’s field director Jake Lubenow thinks of what he calls “BAD TRUMP”–in 2018, more than a year after President Trump won the election and has been serving as president:

And in December 2017, nearly into Trump’s presidency and more than a year after he defeated Clinton in November 2016, Lubenow mocked Trump’s supporters again:

And the person Vukmir decided to name her campaign manager, Jess Ward, even tweeted this in 2015–wishing for that “lucky” time Trump would be knocked out of the race for president:

Ward, the campaign manager for Vukmir, has not replied to a detailed request for comment from Breitbart News on all the Never Trump comments she and her Vukmir colleagues made during the campaign. She also has not answered specific questions about Vukmir’s derision of Trump supporters as “Trumpkins.” In addition to that, Ward specifically has not answered why Gahn deleted her tweet falsely claiming she has driven Vukmir’s non-existent “Ford” but none of the Vukmir campaign staffers have including herself have removed the far more serious inaccurate criticisms of President Trump from the 2016 campaign and afterwards even as recently as just a few months ago in Lubenow’s case.

Never Trumpers outside of the actual campaign staff seem attracted to Vukmir as well. After Breitbart News’ expose on Vukmir’s lies about what kind of car she drives, nationally prominent Never Trump leader Rick Wilson tweeted a defense of her:

Vukmir faces off against the actually pro-Trump Kevin Nicholson in the Aug. 14 primary in Wisconsin. It remains to be seen what will happen in the final days of this race, but the entire Wisconsin GOP establishment is aligning behind Vukmir with little to no effect. Most polls have had Nicholson in the lead by about 10 points over the course of this year, and a poll out last week from NBC News showed the same thing: a 10-point Nicholson lead. Trump himself has yet to weigh in on this race, but he has been as of late endorsing in primaries. Sources close to the president confirm to Breitbart News that despite all the Never Trump activity from Vukmir and her campaign staff, Ryan is lobbying the president to back her for the Senate in the primary–but the president has been uncomfortable with doing so. Trump may yet endorse in this race, and sources close to the process say he is watching Nicholson very closely. Backing Nicholson would, very much like when Trump backed Katie Arrington in South Carolina over Never Trump Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) or when he pushed Brian Kemp in Georgia’s governor’s race, rebuke the establishment yet again and very likely push Nicholson to a victory on Aug. 14.

 

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