Hundreds of Republican faithful from all over the state met at a resort in the scenic Wisconsin Dells for the three-day Wisconsin GOP convention from May 12 through 14. Despite the goings-on in D.C., this state-level event had much to celebrate about the party’s victories in 2016. Cheeseheads, red, white, and blue elephants, and star-spangled women’s tops decorated the happy, enthusiastic crowd applauding and cheering the stellar speakers of the convention.
The delegates and guests from Leftist strongholds were thrilled to be among the likeminded. Avi Zarmi and I, both delegates, live in the predominately left-wing Village of Shorewood at the edge of Milwaukee, also a bastion of the Democratic Party. We were both delighted to speak freely about supporting pro-life, low-tax, small-government, and religious-freedom policies, and enforcement of immigration law. (On Friday, Avi even was able to sit at a booth hosting gun raffles; we bought a ticket.)
On the first day, sessions were held on leadership and grassroots work; the evening event was a social fish fry hosted by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his wife. He introduced his sons and chatted on stage with the crowd, and hinted at running for a third term. He posed for pictures with any attendee who wished for one with him.
On Saturday, among the stars of the convention who spoke positively of the victories and the accomplishments of the Republican House was Speaker of the House and Wisconsinite Paul Ryan. The pragmatic Ryan proved an excellent spokesman for the House GOP, listing the past, present, and future acts he felt would make the country a better place for its citizens. The audience was delighted to hear that more money would be allocated for the military and by his claim that Obamacare was really on its way out. Ryan, along with every other speaker, was frequently interrupted with applause and cheers.
Governor Walker then spoke of the pride of Wisconsinites and of what the state party faithful had been able to do to turn the country around. He spoke of Wisconsin now being among the top ten states in terms of economic success; red signs reading “Top Ten” were everywhere. He spoke of low unemployment, a better business climate, lower taxes, a balanced budget, and no deficit.
He then officially announced he would seek a third term as governor.
Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, vivacious and young, spoke of new companies coming to Wisconsin. She also spoke of backing Wisconsin’s law enforcement, and of standing with Israel: “Our best ally in the Middle East.” She urged the audience to protect the unborn with legislation. She spoke of the Republican Party as being religious and caring, and the party of the little guy.
Senator Ron Johnson spoke of the Homeland Security Committee’s accomplishments. Attorney General Brad Schimel spoke, announcing he would run for reelection.
A highlight was the speech of Matt Adamczyk, the state treasurer who ran on the promise of eliminating his office. He has kept his word, having fired the entire staff and refusing to hire replacements or a deputy. He then spearheaded legislation to end his office, which has passed two sessions of the state legislature. He also introduced legislation to eliminate “sweetheart leases” such as those signed by previous governor.
The theme was positivity: no speeches simply bashed the Democratic Party; the only mention of the party involved how much negativity it has been directing at Republicans.
The major difference between this year’s convention and previous conventions is that discussion of resolutions was not included. The goal was to stick to a convention of celebration.
Several attendees received awards at an evening banquet for their volunteer work for the party. One chairman of a small Wisconsin community was recognized for heading the chapter there for fifty years. Avi also received an award for his work as the past local chairman of a suburban branch, his commitment to the Milwaukee party, and his innovative outreach to inner-city children and families.
A straw poll was held to determine whom the attendees wanted to run against Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin; state Senator Leah Vukmir won by more than fifty percent.
Support for President Trump by delegates was an astonishing 98%.
The final Sunday event was a prayer breakfast, a positive ending to a very positive and successful convention.