Melanie Conklin

McCoshen Won’t Run for Governor

Lobbyist and former Thompson aide had traveled state for a year.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Sep 15th, 2021 11:26 am
Bill McCoshen via Twitter/Wisconsin Examiner.

Bill McCoshen via Twitter/Wisconsin Examiner.

After spending more than a year traveling around Wisconsin, meeting with businesses and the public as he appeared to lay the groundwork for a campaign to run for governor, lobbyist Bill McCoshen announced Wednesday that he has decided to opt out.

He announced earlier in the week that he was selling his consulting business of nearly 30 years to legal and public relations firm Michael Best Strategies, sparking speculation that it was a first step in clearing the deck to run for the Republican nomination. His announcement on Twitter said the opposite.

“My family and I have made a decision not to seek the governorship in 2022. Here’s why and what’s next,” he tweeted, attaching his statement.

One of the elements in his long explanation that may draw the most attention was this:

“History says the GOP needed a competitive primary to beat an incumbent Democrat governor in 2022.”

McCoshen is considered a standard bearer of the more traditional conservative wing of the Republican party, while former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is embracing the far-right and Donald Trump supporters in her agenda. It would be difficult to interpret that in any way other than his encouraging other Republicans to run in the GOP primary against Kleefisch, who announced her candidacy last week.

“It has happened twice in my lifetime,” McCoshen continued in his statement. “The last time was 1986 when Tommy Thompson beat Tony Earl. Tommy won a five way primary before going on to win four-year terms and become the longest serving governor in Wisconsin history. The other time was 1978 when upstart Lee Dreyfus defeated party endorsed Bob Kasten in the GOP primary before defeating interim Gov. Marty Schreiber.

McCoshen was Thompson’s communications director and later campaign manager in his races for governor. He said that he would be joining Michael Best and remain involved in developing conservative public policy through Common Sense Wisconsin, a nonprofit 501c4 corporation.

His approach of using a nonprofit organization to advocate for public policy, while also using it to travel the state in what appears to be campaigning — a tactic Kleefisch also used — may be the new GOP model for running. Kleefisch’s The 1848 Project is the subject of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) complaint from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin that is pending.

Once likely GOP candidate McCoshen will not run for governor was originally published by the Wisconsin Examiner.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us