Turnover high in Wisconsin’s Republican National Convention delegates – Isthmus

When cameras show the 41 Wisconsin delegates to the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in five weeks, who are they?

One answer: Many different faces, compared to delegates to the 2016 and 2020 Republican national conventions that also nominated former President Donald Trump. 

Apart from party leaders at all three conventions, only a handful of rank-and-file delegates to the two earlier conventions will be delegates cheering Trump, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, the state’s five Republican members of the U.S. House, and other national party leaders.

State party leaders who are delegates to the July 15-18 Milwaukee convention are: Chairman Brian Schimming, Republican National Committeeman Tom Schreibel, Republican National Committeewoman Maripat Krueger, former Govs. Scott Walker and Tommy Thompson, former Party Chairmen Paul Farrow and Brad Courtney, and state Treasurer John Leiber.

The only Republican legislator listed as a delegate is Sen. Cory Tomczyk. Two other legislators — Reps. Tyler August and Nik Rettinger — are alternates.

Most Republican legislators are busy running for re-election in new districts this year. And one party leader at past GOP national conventions, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, has been denounced by Trump and is fighting a recall effort.

In May, Schimming explained how the delegates were chosen: “Half of our delegates are picked in the eight congressional districts around the state. They elect delegates at their district caucuses.”

He picks the other group, with recommendations from others. “We really want to be as reflective of the Republican electorate and what’s going on here in Wisconsin.”

Schimming said there is a lot more to being a convention delegate than hoping to land a five-second shot on national TV. “Everything from resolutions, to platform, to listening to speakers. There will be some committee meetings as well the week before.”

There are several reasons for new convention delegates this year: In 2016, Wisconsin’s convention delegation was dominated by those committed to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the state’s presidential primary. Some former delegates have disavowed Trump and are not attending as delegates this year. And some past convention alternates are delegates this year. 

Andrew Hitt, the former party chairman who was one of 10 fake electors who claimed in December 2020 that Trump had won Wisconsin in an attempt to have him declared president, is not a delegate this year. Another controversial Republican — Wisconsin Elections Commissioner Robert Spindell, who Democrats want replaced on the board that oversees elections — is an alternate.

All of the delegates this year were chosen before Trump was convicted of 34 felonies. 

The Republican Party’s list of other delegates to the Milwaukee convention includes: Dave Anderson, Candee Arndt, Barb Bittner, Jordan Briskey, Kathy Broghammer, George Bureau, Pete Church, Brett Galaszewski, Jim Geldreich, Kevin Hermening, Christine Illgen, Scarlett Johnson, Robert Kordus Jr., Rose Marie LaBarbera. Brandon Maly, Tim Michels, Georgia Maxwell, Diamond McKenna, Shannon McKinney, Andreina Patilliet, Phillip Prange, Patricia Reiman, Matt Rust, Chris Slinker, Stephanie Soucek, Eric Toney, Pam Travis, Terrence Wall, Cindy Werner, Cindy Wiedmeyer, Laurie Wolf and Dixon Wolfe.

Capitol comebacks?

Three former members of the Assembly — Republicans Dean Kaufert and Rob Kreibich and Democrat Joe Plouff — submitted nomination papers to return to the house where they served a total of 36 years.

Kaufert, of Neenah, served as co-chair of the Legislature’s Finance Committee during his 14 years in the Assembly — a tenure that included his March 10, 2011, vote against Act 10, which abolished collective bargaining for most public employees and made them pay more for health care and pensions.

The former Neenah mayor and bar owner did not seek re-election in 2014 but wants to return to the Assembly from the 53rd District. He does not face a primary challenge for the GOP nomination.

Kreibich, of Eau Claire, also served 14 years in the Assembly before losing a 2006 re-election bid. Now executive director of the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce, he is running in the 28th District.

A second Republican, Brady Penfield, of River Falls, also filed nomination papers in that district, so an August primary is expected.

Plouff, of Menomonie, served eight years in the Assembly before losing a re-election bid in 2004. He filed nomination papers to run in the 92nd District but faces a primary challenge in August from another Democrat, Caden Berg, of Chippewa Falls.

Steven Walters started covering the Capitol in 1988. Contact him at

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