The Republican Party of Wisconsin voted Saturday to withhold endorsement in the race to become the party's nominee for governor. Observers said it marked the first time the party convention has failed to make an endorsement. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
May 21 (UPI) -- The Republican Party of Wisconsin voted at its annual convention to refuse to endorse any of the party's four candidates for governor, a first in the party's history.
The convention Saturday in Middleton featured 45% of the roughly 1,500 delegates voting to withhold endorsements in the race to become the party's nominee for governor. The delegates were choosing between endorsing Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and declining to make an endorsement.
Observers said it marked the first time the Republican convention failed to make an endorsement for governor.
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch earned about 55% of the votes, but her total fell short of the 60% threshold required to secure the endorsement.
"Guys, I'm declaring victory," Kleefish told reporters after the vote. "When you take a look at the numbers in there, I won the majority."
The "no endorsement" option was added to the ballot by the convention's rules committee, after previously being removed in 2009. The "no endorsement" option was championed by Kevin Nicholson, a former Marine and one of Kleefish's opponents, in the run-up to the convention.
Nicholson, State Rep. Tim Ramthun and construction business owner Tim Michels each earned less than 6% support in the initial round of voting.
Kleefish, Nicholson, Ramthun and Michels will face off in an August primary to determine who will face Gov. Tony Evers in November's election.