A Republican mega-donor has contributed $2 million to a super PAC to support a widely expected run for the U.S. Senate against Tammy Baldwin.
The Solutions for Wisconsin PAC announced this week that Richard Uihlein, who founded Uline Corp. in Pleasant Prairie in 1980, made the donation to help persuade former Marine and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson to challenge Baldwin.
Nicholson, of Delafield, said in an email that he was “honored and humbled” by the support and was “strongly considering” a Senate run.
Nicholson is among several Republicans mulling a run against Baldwin, who is up for re-election in 2018. No one has officially committed to running, but news of the super PAC’s formation seems to indicate that Nicholson is all but certain to run.
“I strongly encourage others to support this effort and avoid a repeat of 2012’s divisive Republican primary,” Uihlein said in a statement.
Paperwork filed this week with the Federal Elections Commission identified the PAC as “Solutions to Wisconsin,” rather than “Solutions for Wisconsin” as the news release called the group. Its treasurer was based in Texas.
Hours after the PAC was announced, a new Twitter account with the handle @NicholsonforWI was created. Nicholson said via email that he did not create the account, which declared he was a candidate for Senate. Its first tweet was written in the first person, thanking Uihlein for his support. A direct message sent to the Twitter account asking who created it was not immediately returned.
Baldwin campaign manager Scott Spector said creation of the PAC shows that Republicans are trying to “buy Wisconsin’s Senate seat.”
“Wisconsinites never have to worry about whose side Tammy is on,” Spector said. “She has never been afraid to stand up to Washington millionaires and special interests when the best interests of Wisconsin are on the line.”
Baldwin defeated former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson in 2012, the same year that then-President Barack Obama carried Wisconsin on his way to re-election. Thompson emerged with little cash after a bruising four-way Republican primary, which party insiders have said they want to avoid this time.
Wisconsin state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald repeated this week that he didn’t want another crowded primary.
His brother, Jeff Fitzgerald, was one of those who ran in 2012. Scott Fitzgerald said he hasn’t ruled out a run, but said he was a “little overwhelmed” with ongoing state budget negotiations in the Legislature.
Announcement of the super PAC came a day after Nicole Schneider, of Green Bay, issued a statement signaling possible interest in running. Also a political newcomer like Nicholson, she is the daughter-in-law of the former head of Schneider National Trucking.
Other Republicans considering running for the seat include:
• Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke;
• state Sen. Leah Vukmir;
• state Rep. Dale Kooyenga;
• Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch;
• Madison businessman Eric Hovde.