It was mid-December, and my phone rang with a name familiar among Wisconsin Republicans. State Senator Leah Vukmir was calling because I had posted a picture of her capitol office door on Facebook granting permission to – nay, inviting – safe gun owners to enter her office.
Wisconsin is one of those “radical” states that allow law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights on every square inch of state property, unless otherwise requested; some recalcitrant Democrats have posted the adorable “peace” signs banning defensive weapons. My caption: “suffice it to say, Vukmir’s office is the safest in the building.”
She’s also a trained registered nurse, and knows how to save my life. But her calling since 2001 has been to serve the public in another way, fighting for conservative principles – before it was cool – first in the assembly, then the state senate. Her first race was to replace the seat vacated by then-assemblyman, and future conservative governor Scott Walker. There was no drop-off.
Now, she wants to take her ideas, our ideas, the ideas that work, to the US Senate. Her only other declared opponent in the primary is a recent Republican convert, Kevin Nicholson. The winner goes on to face incumbent Tammy Baldwin, a lonely liberal Democrat next November.
I’m no fool, nor gullible – no politician of any influence keeps my conscience warm at all times. Every election we send conservatives to higher offices just to watch them appear to change their modus operandi, occasionally opposing things we value, or supporting programs we dislike. Compromise is a necessary evil of governing by committee. Sen Vukmir is human, as I am, and has a mind of her own, as do I. But in our representative republic, we don’t elect people based on their compatability scores. Or at least we shouldn’t. We select them based on their wisdom, their instincts, and their fortitude.
Leah Vukmir has all three, in conservative spades. And she’s a spitfire, a proud Greek woman who tells it like it is.
THE CONSERVATIVE WE KNOW
The best primary is where you have a clear choice that is conservative because they have 16 years worth of a resume to prove it, not just because they claim to be.
In 2011, Wisconsin took on public union reform with Act 10, looking to break the self-perpetuating machine state Democrats and public employees had built, mandating union membership, forced dues, unaccountable budgets and a political machine that disenfranchised regular voters.
Vukmir had just become the senator for her district, beating a Democrat incumbent. (See? She’s done it before.)
Most Americans remember the drama of the Wisconsin protests at that time, the Democrats who fled the state, tens of thousands of protesters for months, and tree-hugging “solidarity singers” that made life hell for Vukmir and her colleagues. But she stood firm. In the face of death threats, stalking activists and national political pressure, she never backed down.
Not only did she stand firm, but the freshman senator stood in her chamber and persuaded her colleagues, saying “We cannot back down. If we do, no other state will consider doing the reforms we are trying to do here.” And they didn’t. And other states followed.
That’s a conservative we can trust.
But she was no one-trick pony. Vukmir is a policy wonk. She led the fight against Obamacare expansion in the state, proposed reforms to national common core standards, supported concealed carry, castle doctrine (defending your home), veteran benefit reforms, statewide school choice, right-to-work, prevailing wage reform (mandated pricing for public works), holding the line on property taxes, freezing state tuition at state colleges, and dozens of other first-time conservative changes. As Wisconsin has slowly replaced the aging progressive legacy of our state with conservative polices that work, Vukmir has usually been on the front line.
Next year, Wisconsin Republicans will choose the most electable conservative to represent the Party in November. The progress of conservative ideas in Washington depends on winning Democrat seats, and Wisconsin’s senate race is ripe for the taking. Every conservative in the country needs to back one we have seen in action, and send the Democratic anomaly we have in Tammy Baldwin back home.
This column is the expressed opinion of the contributor, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion or endorsement of the editor or The Resurgent.