Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir’s campaign to win the 2018 GOP U.S. Senate nomination and challenge incumbent Tammy Baldwin seems to be gaining traction against businessman Kevin Nicholson (as businessman and 2012 candidate Eric Hovde waits in the wings to potentially complicate the race). If Vukmir is successful, she will become just the second woman to win a Republican U.S. Senate nomination for the office in Wisconsin history joining State Senator Susan Engeleiter in 1988. Engeleiter came up 4.5 points shy of picking up William Proxmire’s open seat as Herb Kohl won his first of four terms. The only other woman to appear on a Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot in the state was Treasurer Cathy Zeuske in 1994 who placed third of four candidates with 17.0 percent of the vote, losing to State Assemblyman Robert Welch. Similarly, only two Democratic women have appeared on a U.S. Senate primary ballot over the last 100+ years: national party committeewoman Gertrude Bowler in 1934 (placing last in a five-candidate field with 12.9 percent) and Senator Baldwin in 2012.


  1. Nikoli Orr on March 12, 2018 at 4:16 am

    “…Senator Baldwin in 2012”. She was a 7-term US representative at the time of her nomination. As for the Rs, an additional complication – if it may be called that – is that both of Kevin Nicholson’s parents have contributed (the maximum amount, at that) to the now-one term incumbent senator – though he has thus far declined to address the discord, other than issuing a boilerplate, terse statement.

    • Eric Ostermeier on March 12, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Indeed, and the drip-drip-drip of the past partisan ties of Nicholson’s family seems to correlate with his loosening grip on the GOP nomination.

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