Republican Kevin Nicholson, the business consultant whose campaign for governor of Wisconsin failed to catch up with conservative voters, announced Tuesday that he will leave the race five weeks before the Aug. 9 primary.
Nicholson was consistently behind in the polls behind Lieutenant Rebecca Cliffish and co-owner of the construction business Tim Michaels. Donald Trump endorsed Michelle, who is running as an outside candidate as was Nicholson.
In a statement declaring his campaign over, Nicholson said it had become clear to him that the only way forward was “to attack the other candidates in the race over the airwaves and run a very negative campaign”.
“While our team has the ability to do this, this is not something I want to do – and I don’t think it would be good for the party to do so,” Nicholson said in his statement. “This election is very important to our state and our movement.”
Nicholson’s departure is unlikely to shake the dynamics of the two-person race since Michaels stepped in and began spending heavily of his personal fortune to catch up with Cliffish. A June 22 Marquette Law School poll showed Nicholson 10%, compared to 27% for Michaels and 26% for Cliffish. State Representative Timothy Ramthon got 3% and 32% were undecided.
He thanked Cliffish Nicholson on Twitter, “for the controversy and heartfelt competition to make our country and movement better!”
Michaels on Twitter praised Nicholson for “advancing his outward message about the need to change the Madison machine” and said he would work to win over his supporters.
Nicholson previously ran for the US Senate in 2018, losing in the Republican primary. He was looking to run for the Senate again this year, but he went for governor rather than challenge incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson in the primaries.
Nicholson said he wouldn’t endorse anyone before the next gubernatorial primary. The Republican winner will advance to face Democratic Governor Tony Evers in a race that is a national priority for both parties. Whoever wins will be the state’s governor during the state’s 2024 presidential race. Evers served as a block to the Republican-controlled legislature, vetoing several bills making it more difficult for absentee voting to pass after Donald Trump lost the state in 2020.