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Wisconsin GOP Backs Anti-Equality Candidate in U.S. Senate Race

Leah Vukmir

Leah Vukmir, vying to run against Tammy Baldwin in November, has "a disturbing record," says the Human Rights Campaign.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has endorsed a deeply anti-LGBT state senator, Leah Vukmir, in the race for the party's U.S. Senate nomination, and if she wins the primary she'll be challenging Tammy Baldwin in the general election.

Vukmir received the support of about 73 percent of the delegates to the Republican state convention, held Saturday in Milwaukee, far outpacing her closest rival, businessman and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. A minimum of 60 percent was required for the endorsement.

"Let's tell Tammy Baldwin it's time for her to go home," Vukmir told delegates after winning the nod. Baldwin, a lesbian, is the nation's first and only out LGBT U.S. senator.

The Human Rights Campaign quickly denounced the party's endorsement of Vukmir. "Leah Vukmir has no place in the United States Senate," said HRC Wisconsin state manager Wendy Strout in a press release. "She has consistently worked to undermine LGBTQ equality, and built a disturbing record that demonstrates a long-standing hostility to some of Wisconsin's most marginalized and vulnerable communities. Wisconsinites will not stand for a candidate who is a threat to our progress and the values we hold dear."

Vukmir is a political veteran and an ally of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. She was a state representative before becoming a state senator, and she is now assistant majority leader in the Wisconsin Senate. Her record in office is a troubling one, according to HRC.

"Throughout her almost two decades in public office, Vukmir has derailed efforts to pass commonsense protections for the LGBTQ community, including protections for LGBTQ youth facing discrimination and bullying at school," the HRC press release reads. "She is a longtime opponent of marriage equality and has close ties to some of the nation's most virulently anti-LGBTQ organizations, such as the Family Research Council. Vukmir has consistently voted against pro-equality legislation and has pushed for a license to discriminate in the health care system that would prioritize physicians' beliefs over life-saving patient care. In addition to her attacks on the LGBTQ community, Vukmir's extremist agenda also includes attacks on voting rights; health care including reproductive rights and mental health treatment; education; and the environment." HRC has made Wisconsin a priority state in this year's election.

Wisconsin Democrats "were unimpressed" with the GOP's endorsement of Vukmir, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. "After 15 years of undermining our state's working families and championing special interest corruption in Madison, it's no surprise that Sen. Vukmir can now add the Republican Party of Wisconsin to her list of supporters along with the billionaire backer [ABC Supply founder Diane Hendricks] propping up her candidacy," Brad Bainum, a spokesman for the state Democratic Party, told the paper.

Wisconsin's primary will be held August 14 and the general election November 6.

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