Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has won the support of state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, the latest member of Wisconsin’s Republican establishment to back the Texas senator.
Meanwhile, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign said she will hold events across the state starting Monday. Details were not immediately available Friday afternoon, but a stop in Madison is expected on Monday or Tuesday.
Clinton joins her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders in the Badger State. Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, plans a rally Saturday at the Alliant Energy Center.
Vos, R-Rochester, announced his Cruz endorsement on radio host Charlie Sykes’ program Friday morning.
Cruz is vying with GOP front-runner Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Wisconsin’s April 5 presidential primary. The primary is taking on increasing national significance, as Republicans across the country who oppose Trump view it as one of their last chances to thwart Trump’s quest for the party’s nomination.
Vos acknowledged Friday that Cruz was not his first choice. He previously endorsed U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who since has dropped out.
But Vos said he was encouraged when Cruz struck a more optimistic note in his first Wisconsin event earlier this week, an on-stage interview with Sykes at his Insight 2016 event.
Other Wisconsin Republicans who previously endorsed Cruz include Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke and U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman.
Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped out of the presidential race in September, has not endorsed anyone. He said this week that Cruz is the only Republican besides Trump who has a path to the nomination.
A new poll released Friday shows Cruz leading Trump in Wisconsin, 36 percent to 31 percent, with Kasich at 21 percent. The poll, conducted by Basswood Research and sponsored by the conservative Washington Free Beacon website, has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Also Friday, Cruz and Clinton foreshadowed their contributions to the coming campaign war on Wisconsin airwaves.
Both campaigns announced six-figure ad buys with positive messages about the candidates.
One of the Cruz ads focuses on his proposal for a flat tax and abolishing the IRS. Another features a fictional small business owner criticizing Trump’s “empty promises.”
“Our next president needs to be a principled leader with a real plan to turn things around,” the business owner says. One of the Clinton ads features a clip of her vowing to go after pharmaceutical companies that price-gouge.
Another, voiced by actor Morgan Freeman, cites Clinton’s public references to the killings of African-Americans such as Milwaukee resident Dontre Hamilton, Travyon Martin and Sandra Bland. The ad also links Clinton to President Barack Obama.
Clinton “stands with the president against those who would undo his achievements,” Freeman said.