LA CROSSE — It was a day of mixed messages at the Republican Party of Wisconsin State Convention on Saturday.
Wisconsin’s State Republican Committee voted on several non-binding proposals to restrict voting rights. Those included eliminating the Wisconsin Election Commission, forcing college students to vote in their home towns instead of on campus and ending early voting.
State GOP chair Brian Schimming shared an opposite sentiment, having said on the first day he was elected as chair that keeping early voting as an option would be a high priority.
“Wisconsin is not one of 50 states,” said Schimming. “We’re one of five. There’s about five states in this country that are going to decide this presidential election. It’s why the Republican National Convention will be here next year.”
Senator Ron Johnson took the stage to close out the Saturday morning session. He criticized the federal government’s handling of inflation and the national debt, but also called for cooperation and compromise with democrats among key issues.
“It starts with listening to others,” said Johnson. “Not just within the echo chamber of our own party, but literally listening to the other side.”
Johnson spent a lot of time on the abortion issue, telling Republicans that their anti-abortion view was “the most compassionate.” But he also voiced support for a statewide referendum that should gauge at what stage of pregnancy abortion should be illegal.
“You may not necessarily agree with what decision that woman may make, but that woman has a right,” said Johnson. “But at some point in time, the unborn child within her also has a right.”
State Senator Dan Knodl and Assembly Speaker Robin Voss both attacked diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at public universities. Voss called it “the single most important issue” as he seeks a cut of at least $32 million to the University of Wisconsin System budget despite a state budget surplus of $7 billion.
Republican presidential candidates including Donald Trump sent in video messages that played at Saturday’s afternoon convention session.