Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair Brian Schimming met with members of GOP Badgers Tuesday evening to discuss Republican students’ role in securing success across the decisive battleground state ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
Describing himself as “the most pro-college Republican state chairman the party has ever had,” Schimming said Republican students’ political involvement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will influence 2024 national election outcomes.
“The effect you can have as a club or individually with all these people on campus is a lot more than [the Republican Party of Wisconsin] will have,” he told a group of 15 students gathered at the university’s Student Activity Center. “If you expose folks to our thinking at places like club meetings and we pull even a minimal amount of those people in, that’s going to affect their thinking for the rest of their lives.”
Since 2017, Republican candidates have lost seven out of nine statewide elections in Wisconsin — once for president, once for United States Senate, twice for governor and three times for state Supreme Court justice. Most recently in April, liberal Justice-elect Janet Protasiewicz’s victory flipped the balance of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, ending 15 years of conservative dominance.
Schimming suggested Republicans’ losses in Wisconsin could be attributed to state Democrats’ fundraising success, which he said was “something that [the Republican Party of Wisconsin] struggles with.”
The state Democratic Party is “full of millionaires and billionaires on the coasts,” according to Schimming, citing the party’s record-breaking fundraising efforts for Protasiewicz during the recent state Supreme Court election. Protasiewicz raised $12.4 million while her conservative-backed opponent, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly, raised $2.2 million between Feb. 7 and March 20, according to the Associated Press.
Nevertheless, Wisconsin — still a swing state — can be “tipped over” toward the right, Schimming said Tuesday. Overcoming the financial barrier is also “doable,” he added.
Schimming eyes 2024 comeback
Only 37% of Democrats want President Joe Biden to run for a second term in 2024, according to an AP poll from February. “That gives you a lot of opportunity on this campus to help form people’s opinions about the candidates and about the [Republican] party,” Schimming said.
Heading into the 2024 presidential and U.S. Senate election cycle, Schimming said Republican college students have the chance to educate young voters and shift their political attitudes.
“It all starts on campus,” he noted.
Republicans had an abysmal showing on campus in 2023’s state Supreme Court election. Among wards containing UW-Madison residence halls, less than 10% of voters cast ballots for Kelly — a margin about six points worse than Tim Michels’ vote share in 2022 and Donald Trump’s share in 2020, according to state elections data.
But if Republican students at UW-Madison fought harder for conservative votes in Dane County, Schimming believes the Republican party would “win every statewide race there is.”
“By being involved like working at local campaigns to help pull a [Republican] candidate just by two or 3%, you may change state history,” he added. “Wisconsin will be the most energetic political state in the country the next two years.”
Wisconsin will see multiple Republican party conventions as state and national GOP leaders seek to court voters ahead of monumental 2024 races. The Republican Party of Wisconsin will hold their state convention in La Crosse this June, and in 2024, Republicans will gather in Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention.