MADISON — The parents of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson have donated the maximum amount to the campaign of their son's Democratic rival, Sen. Tammy Baldwin.
Nicholson is in a primary battle against Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir, with the winner advancing to take on Baldwin in the fall.
"In politics, you've got to play the hand you've got. I think we can easily image Sen. Baldwin doing some kind of an ad -- 'even Kevin Nicholson's parents are supporting Sen. Baldwin,'" Mordecai Lee, UW-Milwaukee professor said.
Federal records show that Nicholson's parents, Michael and Donna Nicholson, both gave $2,700 in December to Baldwin. Nicholson is a former Democrat, but his parents have a long history of donating to Democratic candidates. CNN first reported the donations to Baldwin.
"It looks like they made contributions as December -- only two months ago. That means they made the contributions to Baldwin after he became a declared candidate.They weren't just sending 20 cents to Tammy Baldwin. They were maxing out the legal possibility of what they could give," Lee said.
Nicholson says in a statement that "I'm a conservative today not because I was born one, but because of the experience I learned as a Marine in combat. My experience as a husband and father, my choice to be a Christian, the schools I chose to attend and the decision to pursue the career that I have. My parents have a different worldview than I do, and it is not surprising that they would support a candidate like Tammy Baldwin who shares their perspective."
Nicholson's parents have previously donated to Democrats, including Baldwin. Nicholson was once the president of the College Democrats of America and spoke at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
Lee said Nicholson can counter this by showing voters he's authentic, with unshakable values. Nicholson will first face State Senator Leah Vukmir in the primary before potentially facing Baldwin in November.