With a holstered handgun next to her on a kitchen table, Republican U.S. Senator Leah Vukmir promises in her first television ad of the campaign released Monday to stand with President Donald Trump just as she did against death threats in Wisconsin.
Vukmir, a state senator, faces management consultant and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson in the Republican primary on Aug. 14.
Nicholson is running as the outsider in the race and brands Vukmir as a career politician.
The winner will take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November in a race that has attracted more spending by outside groups than any other in the country, based on a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Vukmir frequently talks on the campaign trail about death threats she said she received during that time.
Her ad includes a recreation of a voicemail threat Vukmir claims to have received in which the caller says, “I know where you live and I’m going to come for you. You’re going to die and I’m going to be the one who does it.”
Her campaign spokesman, Mattias Gugel, didn’t immediately reply to questions Monday about whether she reported the threat to law enforcement. Her campaign said the ad is running statewide but didn’t say how large the buy was.
Death threats against Walker and Republican lawmakers were reported in 2011 during the tumult of debate over the anti-union law. Walker has frequently talked about threats made back then against him and his family that were reported to police.
In the ad, Vukmir sits at a kitchen table with the handgun next to her. She does not refer to the gun in the spot.
“Ever have someone threaten your life for something you believe in? I have,” she says.
“When Scott Walker and I beat the union bosses, cut billions in taxes and defunded Planned Parenthood, the left couldn’t take it. With President Trump, we can do the same in Washington. Standing on principle takes guts, I know what it takes.”
Vukmir’s challenger Nicholson has yet to run an ad, but groups backing him have flooded the airwaves with them.
More than $11.5 million has been spent by outside groups in the race already, with $6 million going to help Nicholson specifically, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Nicholson’s campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Wisconsin Democratic Party spokesman Brad Bainum did not address Vukmir’s use of the handgun in the ad. Instead, he said she’s spent her political career “selling out our state’s working families in order to enrich corporate special interests and the big donors bankrolling her campaign.”
Vukmir won the Wisconsin Republican Party’s endorsement in May, which she says shows she has momentum headed into the August primary.
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