A lot can happen in 17 years. Since 2000, Kevin Nicholson has married, fought in two wars, and had three children. He's also abandoned the Democratic Party to become a Republican.
And naturally when announcing his campaign to unseat Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Nicholson made sure to explain his political conversion story. Even the liberal Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described his first campaign video as "tackling head on Nicholson's former affiliation with the Democratic Party."
In that three-minute introduction, the clean-cut retired Marine explains how his positions evolved on abortion, the Second Amendment, and term limits. So, it's surprising that warmed up opposition research is now being billed as a bombshell. "Wisconsin GOP Senate candidate praised abortion rights group," an AP headline blared Monday.
The report details Nicholson's time as president of the College Democrats, highlighting a fundraising letter sent to the pro-abortion group, Emily's List, and a speech at the 2000 Democrat National Convention. Particularly damning, according to the AP, is the fact that Nicholson "voiced his support for a ‘woman's right to choose.'"
Though significant, that information is by no means crippling and certainly not new. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin actually published the document and the convention video on a fake campaign website months ago.
Of course, Nicholson had to know that jumping ship after holding an actual Democratic Party post would require explanation. And like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel detailed, he had addressed his past "head on." It's no secret.
"The one thing in life you cannot compromise are your principles," Nicholson said in his video. "I'm strongly pro-life. I've seen innocent children killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And here in this country, it is unacceptable for our government to systematically allow the lives of innocent children to be taken."
A conservative operative close to the campaign was more succinct. "Back in college, it just wasn't an issue that he thought about," the source said.
Though significant, that evolution isn't novel among Republicans. If presidential history is a guide, it probably won't bother the GOP electorate, or the general electorate for that matter. Rejection of past pro-abortion liberalism didn't hurt Ronald Reagan. Nor did it harm Donald Trump in the polls as some predicted.
It's difficult to see how Wisconsin voters won't extend Nicholson the same charity. After all, it was 17 years ago.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.