Tension forming in Republican race for Wisconsin governor

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos suggests that Kevin Nicholson not run for governor against Rebecca Kleefisch.
“If Kevin

Updated: January 21, 2022 - 12:24am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

It looks like bad blood is forming in the Republican race for governor, and the race hasn’t officially begun yet.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Wednesday suggested that Kevin Nicholson not run for governor against Rebecca Kleefisch.

“If Kevin Nicholson is listening, you need to not run for governor,” Vos said at a political lunch meeting in Madison. “You need to be able to focus on something like 2024.”

Nicholson, who has not yet officially entered the race, responded on Twitter.

“Thanks, [Speaker Vos], for the political advice. Our elections are a mess, law & order is eroding, schools are failing. How about you focus on doing your job?,” Nicholson tweeted.

Nicholson made it clear that he wanted to run for office in Wisconsin this year, but he never said if that would be for governor or U.S. senator.

Nicholson dropped plans to run for Senate nearly two weeks ago when Senator Ron Johnson announced plans to run again.

Nicholson ran for U.S. Senate in 2018, but lost in the Republican primary to Leah Vukmir. She would go on to lose to Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in November of that year.

Vos noted that when talking about Nicholson.

“If I’m Kevin Nicholson and I’ve already had one loss, why would you now run against Rebecca Kleefisch, who’s got such a far advantage,” Vos said. “That doesn’t help any Republicans get elected. That just hurts us.”

Kleefisch, the state’s former Lt. Gov., was the first Republican candidate to jump into the race. She has a lead in the polls, and has a fundraising lead as well.

She received a break earlier this month when former Republican Congressman Sean Duffy decided against running for governor. He had former President Trump’s backing.

But Kleefisch may not be so lucky going forward. Former Republican governor Tommy Thompson is said to be considering another run this year. He’s expected to make a decision in March.

Nicholson has yet to formally launch his campaign for governor.