Leading WI GOPers split with Ryan, Walker over convention

AP News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2016 5:09 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two top Wisconsin Republicans with significant roles in this month's GOP national convention are splitting with their state's highest profile politicians, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker, in an internal fight over how delegates should vote at the gathering.

The Wisconsin GOP activists, Steve King and Mary Buestrin, wrote a letter Friday calling an effort by party rebels to let delegates vote for any presidential candidate "an attempt to disenfranchise the 14 million Republican primary voters who voted for Donald Trump and destroy our chances to win in November."

The letter was sent to members of the convention's rules committee, on which both serve. It was obtained by The Associated Press.

They wrote that the effort is "destined to fail" and is "playing right into the hands of the liberal mainstream media and their goal of tearing down the Republican Party and electing Hillary Clinton as president."

A group of renegade delegates and other GOP activists want delegates pledged to specific candidates be allowed to back anyone they want at the Cleveland convention. They seem likely to lose.

Ryan and Walker have endorsed Trump, the party's presumptive presidential nominee. Ryan's support has been tepid and he's frequently criticized Trump statements, while Walker was initially a rival presidential candidate.

Asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" this month if delegates should be free to back whoever they please, Ryan, R-Wis., left the door open, saying, "It is not my job to tell delegates what to do."

Walker has said, "Delegates are and should be able to vote the way they see fit."

Ryan spokesman Zack Roday said, "Speaker Ryan isn't going to tell members of the House Republican Conference to do something that's contrary to their conscience." That was a reference to Ryan also saying GOP lawmakers should follow "their conscience" in deciding whether to endorse Trump.

King is Wisconsin's committeeman and Buestrin is the state's committeewoman on the Republican National Committee.