Dick Leinenkugel halts US Senate Bid, and how the Wall campaign lost me [Updated]

May 23, 2010

I’ll update more on the convention as a whole soon, but this was the shock of convention:

Sad but necessary:

“We must restore conservative values to Washington, D.C. to bring jobs back to Wisconsin by unleashing the power of small business and entrepreneurs through lower taxes and reduced regulation, to repeal Obamacare and replace it with true health care reform that lowers cost, improves access and ensures personal freedom of choice,” Leinenkugel said in his convention speech.

“And today, I ask that this convention endorse Ron Johnson as our Republican candidate to carry that message against Russ Feingold in November,” he continued, referring to the Oshkosh businessman.

Leinenkugel, who served as the state’s commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, had only announced his candidacy last month after former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson passed on a bid.

But because of his service under a Democratic governor, some Republicans were wary of Leinenkugel’s conservative credentials.

“This is the right thing to do, for me, my family, my state and my country,” Leinenkugel said. “Spending millions on a divisive primary campaign only serves to give an advantage to Russ Feingold. This must be Russ’ last summer as a U.S. Senator.”

A spokesman for Johnson, who formally launched his bid just this week, e-mailed POLITICO, “Ron was completely surprised.”

This came as a shock to everyone in the room, I saw the look on their faces. His family also seemed disappointed. I’m not sure conservatives were ready to embrace Dick yet. I think this speech did a lot to shore up his support. If he stays active. Makes speeches at rallies, LDDs and other party events, I think there is a good chance that we’ll see Leinenkugel again.

Wall jumped on Ron’s surprise endorsement to paint Johnson as a moderate, and calling Dick Leinenkugel “Doyle’s favorite Republican” which pisses me off:

“Ron Johnson is locking up an elite voting bloc. Republicans that Jim Doyle likes. Trust me, this is a group of people we are willing to let him win,” said Wall campaign manager Ryan Murray. “A lot of Republicans are now wondering if a guy with no moral compass is backing Ron Johnson’s campaign, what does it say about Johnson?”

Wall’s attack was a classless, move out of jealousy because his camp must have known at that moment that he’d lose the WisGOP endorsement. This presser confirms that the (makeshift) Ron Johnson yard sign in my yard.

Widgerson and Sykes agree with me, Leinenkugel positioned himself nicely for the future. Widgerson seems to suggest that Wall has been asking Mark Neumann for campaign ad and PR advice. He gave convention goers some time to get his bio, he explained why he worked for Doyle (exactly how I said he would) and got a chance to meet with party folk. A few solid speeches over the next two years at Tea Parties (maybe?) and party events and he has an opportunity for a run in the next 2-6 years. SteveEgg, might not be willing to go that far yet.

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