National conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Kevin Nicholson about his run for the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.
“I think Tammy Baldwin is in for the fight of her life, and I think Wisconsin is ready to support you,” Hewitt said.
Nicholson is a business consultant and a former Democrat, the latter being a focus of much of the interview. When asked to describe himself, Nicholson went on at length about his conversion from being a Democrat to a Republican (from the show transcript):
So Hugh, I was born in the Milwaukee area and grew up there, and one quick note about myself that I think will be of interest to you and your listeners, was that when I headed off to college in the early, or late 90s and early 2000s, I was actually a Democrat. I was elected national president of the college Democrats in 1999.
I came from a left of center family, and my grandfather was my biggest political influence. And he was an old school FDR Democrat who said, who told me all the great things about Roosevelt, and complained about Ronald Reagan. And so I love my grandfather dearly.
I had to actually go off into politics to figure out I had a different vision, and the Democratic Party really didn’t represent what he thought it did, either. So I served in that role in, actually, the Democratic National Committee from 1999 to 2000, and saw a lot of things I didn’t like, chief amongst them is I saw the inception of identity politics. And I saw people within the DNC pitted against each other on the basis of the color of their skin, gender, or whatever could be used to separate them. And so I was only 20-21 years old, but I knew enough to know that that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I also told people, I told people I was going to join the Marine Corps. They looked at me like I was crazy. So between those two things, I had a pretty good sense I was not amongst my crowd. But I left that term not, you know, not making a big political statement or burning bridges with family or friends, but went off and I lived a different life.
And from Washington, I actually headed back to school. I ran the school newspaper for a year. My first introduction to business, where it was 150 staff and a multimillion dollar budget, and the rest of my story is just that. It’s being introduced to reality, figuring out the way the world really works.
So from the newspaper, I headed out to Wyoming for a while where I worked as a cowboy, just about 7,000 feet of elevation in the middle of nowhere. And I tell you, nothing will toughen you up like that kind of work, and finding out how difficult it is to make a buck in agriculture.
From there, I came back to school, I graduated, I got married in 2004, and then I joined the Marine Corps, and served until ’09. I fought in Iraq in ’07, and I fought in Afghanistan in ’08 and ’09. I was part of the surge in al Anbar, and I saw things go from bad to good. And I heard the Democrat presidential candidates running around back home when I was in al Anbar lying about the progress we had made. Whether it was Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or whomever, they were out there undercutting the progress that we had made as part of the surge.
So I was livid, and any kind of tangential tie between me and the Democratic Party was done as I came back in 2007 and ’08, before heading back to Afghanistan in 2008 and ’09 where I was down south near Kandahar and led what was called the counter IED team, basically a quick reaction force that dealt with the IED threat. So I did that. I subsequently saw Barack Obama and Tammy Baldwin as well, too, undercut the progress we had made in both of those countries, as Barack Obama prematurely pulled out of Iraq.
And then in 2008, or excuse me, 2010, give his famous speech at West Point in which he announced a small troop uptick in Afghanistan, then laid out the entire plan for a troop drawdown for the entire world to see. As you know, Hugh, we’re hearing a lot about leaks in Washington today, but there’s been no more consequential leak in my lifetime than President Obama laying out our plans for our enemies to see.
In the interview, Nicholson also talked about the money he has raised so far and other financial backing:
KN: Of course. Yeah, so in terms of the money, you know, we’ve been, I’ve been declared for a little over a week now coming to two weeks, I think, and we’re at about $250,000 committed or raised so far, so we’re doing pretty well.
KN: We also think we’ll have some good support here in the near future in terms of endorsements. As well, too, I, you know, I have supporters out there who have set up a superPAC, which is not connected to my campaign, and is completely independent, but it’s very well-funded. And from what I read in the newspapers, it’s got at least a couple million bucks in it, which is great, and a great tailwind as we get this going. But we still have to raise money within the campaign itself, too, in order to be competitive, and we feel like we will definitely do that.
You can listen to the podcast of Hugh Hewitt’s interview here:
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Note: Hugh Hewitt will be speaking at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty gala on September 28, 2017.