DELAFIELD, Wis. – Kevin Nicholson is running in a Republican primary to take a Senate seat from the party he once represented as president of the College Democrats of America.
Though he wouldn't call his potential opponent, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., "a radical," Nicholson said "her vote record is extreme."
"I would use the word extreme, that’s just my language, and the way I speak," he explained in a Friday interview with the Washington Examiner.
Nicholson's unconventional background has attracted understandable intrigue. He's eagerly explained his conversion from moderate Democrat to conservative Republican, pitching it as an asset in a historically progressive state where other voters may have experienced similar frustrations with the Democratic Party.
"I saw the Democratic Party from the inside," he emphasized, "and saw the way that the party racially and ethnically balkanizes our country and encourages people to turn on each other and to look at each other as competing interests and not as fellow Americans."
And that's why Nicholson believes Baldwin is vulnerable.
"She is as far to the Left as anybody," he contended, proceeding to compare Baldwin to Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Unlike Massachusetts and Vermont, the Badger State "is decidedly center-right," according to Nicholson.
"That transition has taken place over time, but it’s happened as people around the state have realized the Democrats don't provide solutions to their problems," he argued. "They talk a good game sometimes but they never actually follow through and put forward the policies that actually help people do better in the long run."
Nicholson pointed to the recent tax reform bill. "Every single Democrat in the United States Senate is on record voting against something that would have given money back to the people of Wisconsin to invest in their families and given back to the companies that employ them to give them more opportunities and more salary in the future. That’s on Tammy Baldwin," he stressed.
For Nicholson, Baldwin represents those elements of her party that pushed him out of it. Though they may once have played for the same team, Nicholson, a Marine veteran with degrees from Harvard and Dartmouth, pulls no punches when it comes to Baldwin now.
"I think she embodies many of the worst impulses of the Democratic Party," he asserted plainly, "to patronize people, to in no way shape or form focus on opening up opportunities for them, to appeal to peoples' instinct to view each other as competing interests, not as fellow Americans."
But before facing Baldwin, Nicholson will first need to win the Republican primary in August, a race in which he's pitted against State Sen. Leah Vukmir (though other candidates may still declare).
"I believe I’m the better candidate, or I wouldn't be running," Nicholson insisted.