Senate

2018 Senate Loser Kevin Nicholson Eyes Ron Johnson’s Seat

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson still says he hasn’t decided if he’ll run for reelection in 2022 — but that hasn’t stopped Kevin Nicholson — who lost in Wisconsin’s 2018 GOP primary, despite massive spending from the billionaire Uihlein family — from taking aggressive steps to position himself for a 2022 Senate run of his own.

Via the Wisconsin Examiner:

[W]hile Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson continues to keep everyone guessing with his back-and-forth statements about whether he’ll break his promise not to run again, former GOP contender for Senate Kevin Nicholson (who lost a GOP primary against Leah Vukmir to run against Sen. Tammy Baldwin) signaled his intention to run for Johnson’s seat by doing what is becoming a trend for the GOP, using a nonprofit 501(c)4 in potential violation of the IRS tax code as a shadow campaign.

[…]

Nicholson’s “No Better Friend Corp.” nonprofit announced it will launch a $1.5 million ad campaign that looks just like a campaign ad for Nicholson. It’s message boils down to “the world’s a mess,” and highlights Nicholson’s face and his views…

As a “dark money” 501(c)(4) organization No Better Friend Corp. is not legally required to disclose its funders. But the DeForest Times-Tribune reported earlier this summer that it’s both advised and funded by Richard and Liz Uihlein — the billionaire couple who likewise bankrolled the outside groups behind Nicholson’s 2018 run. The Uihleins have also backed Johnson’s own political career, in return receiving hundreds of millions in tax savings following Johnson’s efforts to shape the 2017 GOP tax law to their benefit.

And the new TV ad isn’t the only sign Nicholson may be coming for Johnson: he recently told the Wisconsin State Journal that “Johnson needs to decide if he’s running for re-election […] this is not a time to play games.”

Still, Nicholson is not necessarily a welcome presence in Wisconsin Republican circles. Earlier this month, Reince Priebus dinged Nicholson as a “perennial candidate” who may face problems because he’s “not an outsider anymore — he’s been running for now four, five, six years by the time we get to 2022.”

Is Kevin Nicholson officially trying to take out Ron Johnson? Are the Uihleins abandoning Johnson for a fresh face they’ve groomed to run for years? Only time will tell.

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