High-profile Wisconsinites drop out of Republican convention

Scott Bauer, AP writer

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Michael Grebe, former chairman far-right Bradley Foundation, have been replaced as Wisconsin  delegates to the Republican convention in Cleveland later this month, the state GOP announced Friday.

The controversial Kleefisch and Grebe are being replaced by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and longtime Republican activist Don Taylor.

They will serve among the 18 at-large delegates who are bound to vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the first round of balloting because

18 at-large delegates who are bound to vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the first round of balloting because Cruz won Wiscosin’s primary in April, which was considered then a near-fatal blow to Trump’s campaign.

Of Wisconsin’s 42 delegates, 36 are bound to vote for Cruz at the Republican convention until he releases them or fails to get a third of the vote at the July 18–21 event.

Fitzgerald has been outspoken in urging Republicans to unite behind presumptive nominee Donald Trump.

Kleefisch has said she will support whoever is the nominee. She withdrew as a delegate about a month ago due to scheduling conflicts, said her campaign manager Charles Nichols. Kleefisch will still attend the first three days of the convention, where she will participate in events as chair of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, Nichols said. After that she will return to Wisconsin late on July 20 for official state business, he said.

Grebe did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Pat Garrett said he did not know why Grebe withdrew.

For the past 14 years, he’s served as chairman of the powerful and influential Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation based in Milwaukee. The $850 million conservative foundation has financially backed public policy experiments in Wisconsin like welfare reform, public vouchers for private schools and curbs on collective bargaining and unions.

Grebe is also a close confidante of Gov. Scott Walker, having previously served as his campaign chairman. Walker is going to the Republican convention as an at-large delegate, but he’s wavered in his support of Trump in recent weeks.

Four alternate delegates were also replaced. Those removed were Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, former Gov. Scott McCallum, former U.S. Rep. Mark Green and David Karst.

Steineke has been one of the most outspoken critics of Trump in Wisconsin. He had announced earlier this spring that he would not attend the convention given that Trump was the presumptive nominee.

They are being replaced by Trump supporter Van Mobley, Sue Lynch, David Anderson and Jennie Frederick.