Yesterday the Wisconsin Republican Party finally detached itself from Paul Nehlen, who hopes to challenge Speaker Paul Ryan for his seat in 2018. The only question is: What took so long?
Wisconsin newspapers reported yesterday that the state’s Republican Party said it would return or donate dues it received from Nehlen’s campaign and that it would not accept Nehlen as a member of the Republican Party going forward. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that various Wisconsin Republicans disavowed Nehlen’s campaign and his remarks:
“Paul Nehlen is not a member of the Republican Party of Wisconsin,” GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said. “Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party.”
State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who lives in the 1st Congressional District currently held by Ryan, was even more blunt.
“I didn’t read all of (Nehlen’s) comments. But it looks to me like he’s a racist bigot,” said Vos, a longtime Ryan supporter. “I don’t want him as part of my party.”
Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign agreed.
“The governor has always supported Paul Ryan, and stood against racist comments like this and those who make them,” spokesman Nathan Craft said in an email.
The Republican Party of Wisconsin’s disavowal of Nehlen comes nearly two months after Nehlen first gained media attention for transparently parading his white nationalist sympathies and espousing anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric against his critics on a podcast named to mock the Holocaust.
Over the last month, the Wisconsin GOP apparently turned a blind eye to Nehlen’s call for Commentary Magazine editor John Podhoretz to “eat a bullet,” his alt-right temper tantrum over media criticism, his promotion of anti-Semitic propaganda veiled as scholarship, his tweets about news network employees that he believed exposed a “Jewish media” conspiracy, his posts of private contact information of his critics on his campaign site, his list of verified Twitter users he believed were his Jewish foes and his countless appearances alongside white supremacists.
It wasn’t until Nehlen was banned from Twitter for posting a racist doctored photo of United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Megan Markel that the Wisconsin GOP finally decided to distance itself from Nehlen.
According to Federal Election Committee documents filed December 31, Nehlen’s campaign had more than $38,000 cash on hand at the end of the year but nearly $63,000 in debts.
As the Journal Sentinel notes, Nehlen used campaign funds to pay his wife a salary of $13,000 in the final three months of 2017, which the paper described as “a highly unusual move for a candidate.”