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Paul Ryan Backs Leah Vukmir Ahead of GOP Primary In Key Wisconsin Senate Race

State senator also picked up endorsement of longtime Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Leah Vukmir has friends in all the right places.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner endorsed the longtime Wisconsin state senator Monday as she faces businessman and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson in the GOP primary for the chance to go head-to-head against Sen. Tammy Baldwin in the general election.

Vukmir is “a longtime friend, a conservative ally, and the right person to take on Tammy Baldwin this fall,” Ryan said in a statement Monday. “Leah has proven that she’s committed to expanding opportunity and challenging the status quo, and our state deserves that kind of leadership in the Senate. She will be a great partner to Ron Johnson and will fight tirelessly to make Washington work more like Wisconsin.”

In addition to the nods from Ryan and Sensenbrenner Monday, Vukmir has racked up endorsements from dozens of state and local leaders in Wisconsin and received the official state GOP endorsement at the party’s nominating convention in May.

It may not matter.

Vukmir and Nicholson are neck-and-neck in the polls eight weeks before the Aug. 14 primary.

Nicholson edged Vukmir, 37 percent to 32 percent, in a recent Marquette University Law School poll, though Vukmir’s deficit was within the survey’s margin of error, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“I am so humbled to have the endorsement of Speaker Ryan and Congressman Sensenbrenner,” Vukmir said in a statement Monday. “With their leadership, so many important conservative reforms pass the House. Unfortunately, they stall in the Senate because of Tammy Baldwin’s partisan obstruction. Wisconsinites can trust me to go to Washington and cut taxes, defend the unborn and protect our Constitution because that’s what I’ve done here with Scott Walker.”

Whichever candidate emerges from the GOP primary should be competitive in the general election, too.

President Donald Trump won the state by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for Wisconsin’s Senate seat Tilt Democratic.

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