Trump unveils Wisconsin women coalition lacking big names
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A coalition of Republican women Donald Trump’s campaign unveiled Wednesday to boost his support in Wisconsin doesn’t include the majority of women GOP office holders, but does have two party activists implicated in a highly publicized investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s county office.
The roster of Wisconsin Women for Trump leaves out the highest-ranking Republican office holder, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and has just two of the 12 GOP women members in the state Legislature.
“It’s a working list,” Trump supporter Sue Lynch, a member of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women, said on a conference call announcing the group. “We don’t have a complete list together yet. We wanted to get this coalition kicked off so people know that women are supporting Mr. Trump in the state of Wisconsin.”
The announcement comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton by double digits in the state and by a 2-to-1 margin among women. A Marquette University Law School poll released two weeks ago showed Clinton ahead among likely women voters by 31 points — 61 percent to 30 percent. Trump led Clinton among men by 5 points.
Former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow, state Senate President Mary Lazich, of New Berlin, and Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee, head the group. Mary Buestrin, a member of the Republican National Committee, and Cate Zeuske, a top official in Walker’s administration as well as a former state representative and treasurer, are also part of the coalition.
But two other members have a more checkered past.
Darlene Wink and Rose Ann Dieck were wrapped up in the first John Doe investigation into Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County executive.
Wink was convicted of two misdemeanors for working on Walker’s gubernatorial campaign while also employed in his county executive’s office as constituent services coordinator. She was sentenced in 2013 to probation for one year, 50 hours of community service and $1,000 in fines. She was also barred from any political activity, except for voting, for one year.
Dieck was granted immunity to testify in the probe that netted six convictions, including of Wink.
Pete Meachum, Trump’s Wisconsin state director, was asked on the conference call if it was appropriate to have Wink and Dieck involved.
“We’re looking to include women from all around the state, including active women who are involved,” Meachum said. “We’re looking for strong Trump supporters and people who are willing to work.”
Kleefisch’s campaign manager, Charles Nichols, said that she is a Trump supporter, but was too busy campaigning for other Wisconsin candidates and serving in her role as head of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association to commit to the coalition.
“She simply does not have the time to be in a leadership position,” Nichols said.
Kathy Kiernan, a member of the Wisconsin Federation of Republican Women from Washington County, said in a statement that she’s supporting him because of whom he has said he would appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court.
One of the names Trump has mentioned is federal Appeals Court Judge Diane S. Sykes, of Wisconsin.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore responded to formation of the coalition on behalf of Clinton’s campaign.
“Wisconsin women have heard Donald Trump repeatedly demean women,” Moore said. “He opposes equal pay measures and supports defunding Planned Parenthood. Donald Trump is dangerously unqualified to be president. We just cannot trust him to manage the economy, keep us safe, or put Wisconsin families first.”