Tags: Donald Trump | GOP2016 | Ted Cruz | wisconsin | primary | trump | cruz

Wisc. Next on Trump's Wish List

Wisc. Next on Trump's Wish List

By Monday, 28 March 2016 08:55 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Donald Trump, currently with 739 delegates, is hungrily eyeing Wisconsin, with its bounty of 42 delegates.

That win would launch him ever closer to the magic 1,237 needed to clinch the nomination.

With eight days to go before Wisconsin's primary, all eyes are are the Badger State. Matters snowball after that with New York (Trump's home) on April 19 and Pennsylvania on April 26.

Opponents Ted Cruz and John Kasich also are making a spirited effort in Wisconsin. A win for Cruz would give the Texas senator a major boost in the remaining primaries, and raise the odds on Trump failing to wrap up the nomination and a resulting "contested convention" choosing the Republican nominee.

While many pundits and pols believe a poor showing by Kasich among fellow Midwesterners could be a death knell for his candidacy, Kasich backers say a strong showing by their man could give him momentum in Pennsylvania (where polls show the him in a near-tie with Trump).

In Wisconsin, it's the much-respected Marquette University Law School poll that political observers usually watch to chart the course of primaries. The last Marquette poll was conducted in February and showed Trump leading among likely voters with 30 percent, followed by Marco Rubio at 20 percent, Cruz 19 percent, and Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson tied at 8 percent each. With Rubio and Carson now both out of the race, the next Marquette poll, which is expected this week, will be watched closely throughout the nation.

"I think Mr. Trump is ahead in our state," Van Mobley, president of the village of Thiersville in suburban Milwaukee and a Trump supporter, told me last week. Molbey cited Wisconsin's role as "a leading manufacturing state" as a key reason he believes his candidate is still running first.

In addition, Mobley told me, "we have a history as a state that is reluctant to commit to foreign entanglements. Also, the idea of a president who is is non-interventionist and has a background as a negotiator and deal-maker rather than someone who would quickly send troops overseas is very appealing."

In 1968, Wisconsin gave anti-Vietnam War candidate Eugene McCarthy one of his earliest wins in the Democratic primaries. Four years later, another anti-war Democrat, George McGovern, scored a big win in the presidential primary as well. Wisconsin has long had an open primary, in which Republicans, Democrats, and independents simply ask for a ballot in the party primary in which they choose to vote.

A few weeks ago, three-term Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., made headlines when he said he would not vote for Trump if he became the Republican nominee.

"With comments like that, [Ribble] betrays his inexperience," said Mobley, noting Ribble never held office or was politically active before coming to Congress in 2010, "But I will forgive him, as, I'm sure, Mr. Trump will when he is the nominee."

"Trump is probably ahead right now," agreed GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is neutral in the race, told me on Thursday, "There are a lot of very frustrated voters out there and Trump has brought many new voters into the Republican column."

But, she quickly added, "I would not be surprised if Ted Cruz takes it. He would have to do very well in the 'WOW' counties [a popular expression among Wisconsin politicians, 'WOW' refers to Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties--all growing Republican bastions that provided the base of support for GOP Gov. Scott Walker to victory in the internationally-watched recall election of 2012 and win a triumphant re-election two years later] and he could very well do it."

Kleefisch pointed to two specific reasons she felt Trump may not emerge on top in Wisconsin April 5.

First, she told me, "He has been saying some untrue things about Wisconsin and the economic recovery that we have been experiencing under Gov. Walker. Five years after we passed Act 10 [requiring public employees to pay a greater share of their pensions and health insurance and ending collective bargaining in the public sector] in 2010, we have a $5.24 billion surplus and have cut taxes such as our property taxes. Our job creation is up and the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor even said she wouldn't repeal Act 10. So what is there to criticize?

The lieutenant governor also noted that talk radio hosts in the state's largest media outlets are ratcheting up the attacks on Trump. Popular talkmeister Charlie Sykes of WTMJ (Milwaukee) is particularly anti-Trump, she said.

Less visible in Wisconsin than Cruz or Trump, Kasich continues to pile up endorsements from elected and party officials, Last week, the state's revered former four-term Gov. Tommy Thompson weighed in strongly for Kasich.

Historically unpredictably, with a conservative Republican (Ron Johnson) holding one Senate seat and a liberal Democrat (Tammy Baldwin) holding the other, Wisconsin is sure to be watched more and more by the national and international press as April 5 approaches.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Donald Trump, currently with 739 delegates, is hungrily eyeing Wisconsin, with its bounty of 42 delegates.
wisconsin, primary, trump, cruz
Monday, 28 March 2016 08:55 AM
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