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State GOP: 'No place in the Republican Party' for Wisconsin congressional candidate banned by Twitter

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The Republican Party of Wisconsin has cut ties with congressional candidate Paul Nehlen, recently banned from Twitter after making posts widely viewed as racist and anti-Semitic.

Nehlen paid membership dues to the Racine County Republican Party in 2017, campaign finance records show. He also paid dues to county parties in Walworth and Kenosha counties, state GOP officials said.

Alec Zimmerman, state GOP spokesman, said Tuesday those dues were for 2017 and Nehlen now “is not a member of the Republican Party of Wisconsin” and won’t be going forward.

“Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party,” Zimmerman said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said of Nehlen on Tuesday that “it looks to me like he’s a racist bigot.”

“I don’t want him as part of my party,” Vos said.

A spokesman for U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, whom Nehlen is challenging in the August GOP primary, said “it has long been clear that Paul Nehlen holds bigoted views.”

“While his Twitter feed is beyond disturbing, it should be ignored so he’s not given the attention that he desperately craves,” said Ryan campaign spokesman Kevin Seifert.

Nehlen, meanwhile, said in a statement that he still considers himself a member of various county Republican parties in Wisconsin because he paid past dues.

“I am a member of the Republican Party regardless of what their traitorous, spineless apparatchiks believe,” Nehlen said. “Not only does my America First agenda have a place in the Republican Party, it ought to be the centerpiece of the Republican Party.”

Nothing bars Nehlen or any other candidate from calling him or herself a Republican or seeking a Republican nomination as part of a bid for elected office.

But Wisconsin Republicans may officially join the party by paying annual dues to the local party in their county of residence. They also may pay dues to other county parties to be a non-voting member.

Nehlen paid $25 in September to the Racine County Republican Party for what was reported to the state Ethics Commission as “membership.”

Zimmerman said Nehlen also paid membership dues in 2017 to county Republican parties in Kenosha and Walworth counties. Those dollars since have been either refunded to Nehlen or donated to charity, Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said if Nehlen seeks to pay membership dues to any Wisconsin GOP county party in 2018, they will not be accepted.

Nehlen was suspended from Twitter over the weekend — permanently, according to a Washington Post report — after posting a doctored photo of England’s Prince Harry and his fiancée, Meghan Markle, who is biracial. The photo superimposed on Markle’s face was an image of the reconstructed face of Cheddar Man, the dark-skinned man whose 10,000-year-old skeleton is believed to have belonged to the first modern Briton.

Nehlen previously had posted on Twitter a list of his critics and emphasized that most are Jewish.

Nehlen drew national attention in 2016 when he mounted a primary challenge to Ryan, in part by criticizing Ryan as insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump. But Nehlen’s campaign fell flat in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, where he drew just 16 percent of the vote.

He has said he will challenge Ryan again this fall.

The alt-right website Breitbart News heavily promoted Nehlen’s 2016 primary run. But the site said it cut ties with Nehlen in December after he, according to Breitbart, “made a series of anti-Semitic and pro-white supremacist comments.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Melanie Conklin said “people espousing bigoted, racist views have no place in government.”

“The hatred and divisiveness that America, and Wisconsin, are increasingly witnessing in public dialogue is dangerous and only serves only to weaken and divide us,” Conklin said.

“It looks to me like he’s a racist bigot. ... I don’t want him as part of my party.” — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
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