Wisconsin Republican conference heads to ‘heart of the beast’ – Isthmus

In May, Republicans from throughout Wisconsin will journey to Dane County for the GOP’s annual state conference. Hold onto your MAGA hat, can that be proper? The similar Dane County that’s residence to the People’s Republic of Madison and that voted overwhelmingly for Gov. Tony Evers and President Joe Biden? 

You heard proper. Dane County will host the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s 2022 state conference on the Marriott resort in Middleton May 20-22. 

Anna Kelly, spokesperson for the Republican Party of Wisconsin, tells Isthmus that the GOP trustworthy aren’t “afraid to visit the heart of the beast.”

“As families confront widespread inflation, historic learning loss, and failure by Democrats at all levels, Republicans’ message of freedom and accountability resonates with all Wisconsinites,” writes Kelly in an electronic mail. 

If historical past holds, the annual GOP conference will characteristic speeches from high-profile politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who’s up for re-election this 12 months. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, businessman Kevin Nicholson, and State Rep. Timothy Ramthun — all candidates vying to problem Evers — are additionally probably to provide speeches. Kelly didn’t instantly reply to an electronic mail asking what audio system have been confirmed for the conference. 

Kelly says that Dane, the second most populous county in Wisconsin, persistently delivers the third highest variety of Republican votes within the state (behind Milwaukee and Waukesha). That’s true. In the final gubernatorial race, former Gov. Scott Walker acquired extra complete votes in Dane County than he did within the smallest 20 counties in Wisconsin mixed. That, nonetheless, is extra a mirrored image of the county’s inhabitants than its politics. 

In each statewide election since 2002, Democratic candidates have received Dane County by greater than 30 proportion factors. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson was the final GOP candidate for governor to obtain a majority within the county and that was 28 years in the past. The final Republican presidential candidate to win Dane was Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

Scott Grabins, chair of the Republican Party of Dane County, says this is not going to be the primary state occasion annual conference in Dane County. But “it has been awhile, probably decades.” 

“It’s still very important for Republicans to have a presence in Dane County. Certainly over the last several years, we’ve seen statewide [Republican] candidates give it more attention and they have spent more time here,” says Grabins. “We have a lot of challenges in terms of winning local races. But in statewide elections, how a candidate performs in Dane County can make or break the campaign.” 

One might argue that the massive turnout in Dane County within the 2020 presidential election was important to delivering the state to Biden, who received Wisconsin by a bit of greater than 20,000 votes. When Trump received Wisconsin in 2016, Hillary Clinton acquired round 218,000 votes in Dane County. Four years later Biden acquired 260,000. 

In common, Dane County has been trending extra blue even in non-presidential election years. Walker acquired 31 p.c of the vote in Dane County in 2010 when he ran in opposition to former Milwaukee Tom Barrett and 30 p.c in 2010 when he beat again a recall effort. In 2014, when he ran in opposition to Democrat Mary Burke, he acquired 29 p.c of the vote; in 2018, when he misplaced to Evers, he acquired 24  p.c. 

The solely Wisconsin county which provides Democrats a better proportion of the vote is tiny Menominee County. It’s the state’s least populous county and its borders are basically aligned with the Menominee folks’s tribal borders. Seventy-seven p.c of Menominee voters solid a poll for Evers in 2018; 82 p.c of the county voted for Biden. However with roughly 1,600 complete voters in Menominee County, there are particular person wards in Madison that crank out extra votes than that. 

Despite the constant Democratic features in Dane County, Grabins says Republicans haven’t given up on organizing domestically. 

“Our county party is one of the most active in the state. We hold [events] every month that draw 60 to 100 people. There’s a lot of energetic Republicans in Dane County who are focused on the kind of trickle-up elections that make us competitive in statewide races and help with top-of-the-ticket victories,” says Grabins. “It was time for the state party to bring the convention to Dane County. We play an important role in helping elect Republicans all over Wisconsin.”

Devin Remiker, government director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, tells Isthmus by electronic mail that he doesn’t anticipate Dane County to roll out the pink carpet for the Republicans arriving for the state conference in May.

“The residents of Dane County will be less than thrilled to welcome the Republican Party of Wisconsin, which is still working overtime to try to invalidate their lawfully cast votes in their ongoing efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” writes Remiker. “As Wisconsin Republicans’ in-fighting continues, it’s clear they have no plan to deliver for Wisconsinites.” 

State Dems have chosen La Crosse for his or her annual conference in late June. Unlike Dane County, western Wisconsin is way much less politically lopsided. 

“La Crosse is a thriving city in a critically important part of our state. The 3rd Congressional District voted for both Ron Kind and Donald Trump in 2020 and both Tony Evers and Tammy Baldwin in 2018,” writes Remiker. “We know how important this area is, and we’re excited to gather in this crucial part of the state to show how Democrats are moving Wisconsin forward.” 

Wisconsin’s battleground standing in presidential elections might convey each the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention to Milwaukee in 2024. Neither occasion has made a closing determination but. But Milwaukee is a “frontrunner” for the Democrats as a result of the town missed out on really internet hosting the conference in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Republicans have named Milwaukee and Nashville as finalists for its 2024 conference.  

Whether it’s the town of Milwaukee or Dane County, Grabins says Wisconsin Republicans are sending a sign that “we’re alive and well even in liberal areas.” 

“We are doing our best to compete here, just like we are anywhere else in the state,” says Grabins. “We’re not afraid to come to Dane County and we have just as much right to campaign here as anyone else.” 

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