By Ryan Ekvall / Wisconsin Reporter
Thompson was joined by old-school D.C. power broker Newt Gingrich.
Neumann rode the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, an influential political action committee (officially Our Country Deserves Better PAC) with deep pockets, and its subsequent bus tour, hoping to put some distance between himself and the crowded Republican field.
“If it’s an endorsement race we’re going to win hands down,” Neumann said, listing tea party favorites – U.S. Sens. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, Rand Paul, R-Kentucky - who have endorsed his campaign. “The Tea Party Express endorsement that we got today is so meaningful to our campaign.”
That may be an understatement.
The Tea Party Express recently helped its endorsed candidate overthrow “establishment Republicans” in Texas’ U.S. Senate GOP primary. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, overcame a 17-point deficit in May, according to a left-leaning Public Policy Polling poll, to defeat Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Tea Party Express spent $135,139 pitching for Cruz, according to campaign finance tracking website OpenSecrets.org.
Last week’s Wisconsin PPP poll shows a three-way statistical dead heat between Madison real estate developer and hedge fund manager Eric Hovde, Thompson and Neumann. Neumann has gained 10 points since the July 8 PPP poll.
On Wednesday, the closely watch Marquette Law School poll comes out, taking the temperature of Republican voters a week before next Tuesday’s partisan primary.
Along with Tea Party Express, Neumann and Cruz both received large financial support from Club for Growth Action, another conservative PAC. In Texas, Club for Growth spent nearly $5 million opposing Dewhurst and another $606,657 supporting Cruz. In Wisconsin, the PAC has spent at least $220,473 in support of Neumann and another $1 million attacking Hovde and Thompson.
But Hovde picked up an endorsement from FreedomWorks, another small-government, conservative PAC which backed Cruz in Texas. Thompson gained support from hard rocker and guns-rights gurus Ted Nugent, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, among a long list of moderate to conservative Republicans.
In a race where each candidate has tried to out-conservative the other, Neumann has highlighted his fiscal restraint with a story of being kicked out of the House Appropriations Committee as a 1st District congressman in the 1990s. He says he defied then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s request for voting on a spending bill.
“And the moment of truth came when Newt Gingrich himself took me aside and looked me in the eye, and he said to me ‘Mark Neumann, you don’t get it. If you don’t vote for this bill, you’re career in politics is over,’” Neumann said.
Gingrich on Tuesday told Wisconsin Reporter he didn’t remember the confrontation. “It doesn’t ring any bells at all,” he said.
Following his confrontation with Gingrich, Neumann told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he would vote for Texas’ Richard Armey, at one time the second-highest ranking Republican House member, to succeed Gingrich as Speaker. Armey is now chairman of FreedomWorks.