MADISON — Phone calls to delegates at the Wisconsin Republican Party convention asking who they endorse for governor were an attempt to quash support for Scott Walker, his campaign consultant said Tuesday.
The Walker campaign accused GOP rival Mark Neumann of intimidating delegates who said they supported Walker from actually voting to give him the party’s endorsement at the state convention in May.
Walker’s camp pointed to a complaint filed by a GOP delegate Tuesday with the state Government Accountability Board, which regulates elections, asking for an investigation into the calls.
Neumann campaign spokesman Chris Lato said the calls paid for by Neumann were nothing more than one in several attempts at voter outreach.
“There’s nothing nefarious about this,” Lato said. “I really question the validity of this complaint.”
Kathy Kiernan, a GOP delegate from Richfield, said in the complaint that she received a call on Saturday from someone claiming to be from the Republican Party who asked her about who she intended to support at the convention. When pressed about who he was representing, Kiernan said the caller hung up.
“I’m very upset by this,” Kiernan said. “When people have delegate lists and they’re making misleading phone calls, that’s just not right.”
Lato said callers were told to identify themselves as being from the Neumann campaign if asked.
“We had nothing to hide with this,” Lato said.
Under state campaign laws, if asked the campaign paying for the call must identify itself.
Walker’s campaign consultant R.J. Johnson said the calls were made by Neumann to intimidate delegates into not supporting Walker.
“Neumann will clearly stop at nothing in an attempt to stop the endorsement,” Johnson said.
A script of the questions asked, provided by the Neumann campaign, shows that if the delegate said they were supporting Walker they would be asked if they knew about a St. Norbert College poll that showed the race in a dead heat.
Lato said the call was an effort to poll delegates to see where they stood in advance of the convention.
“I hardly feel that asking a few simple questions of prospective delegates is suppression,” he said.
The Republican Party endorsement will be voted on by delegates at the GOP convention in Milwaukee on May 22. A candidate must receive support from 60 percent of the delegates in order to get it.
“It’s something that candidates definitely want to have,” Jefferson said. “It immediately establishes that campaign as legitimate, that it’s supported by the party’s activists within the state.”
The primary is Sept. 14. The governor’s race primary winner will face Democratic candidate Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee.