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Nicholson launches TV ad after falling to Baldwin in polls

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson launched his first television ad of the primary Wednesday, as a new poll showed he's in a dead heat for the GOP nomination.

Nicholson, a Delafield management consultant, faces state Sen. Leah Vukmir, of Brookfield, in the Aug. 14 primary. The winner will take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Outside groups have been spending heavily on the race, with about $10 million coming either in support of Nicholson or knocking Baldwin. About $2 million is being spent by the national Club for Growth against Vukmir, ads that former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson denounced Wednesday.

Republicans have been fearful of a repeat of the 2012 campaign, when Thompson emerged broke from the Republican primary and in a weakened position for the general election. He went on to lose to Baldwin.

In the 2012 race, the national Club for Growth spent millions on ads supporting one of Thompson's opponents, Mark Neumann. Now the Club for Growth is running ads attacking Vukmir and Thompson is sounding the alarm.

"They are wasting precious resources that would be better used in the general election to elect a conservative to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin," he said.

In his new ad, Nicholson calls it a "disgrace" that Congress won't stop illegal immigration or build a border wall. He touts his experience serving as a Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq and says that "career politicians" are wasting "this moment." He says "for America, it's now or never."

He does not mention Vukmir in the spot.

The latest Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday showed the race about even with Vukmir at 34 percent and Nicholson at 32 percent. Vukmir appears to have the momentum, seeing her support increase 15 points from 19 percent in March. Nicholson's has gone up just 4 points, from 28 percent in March.

In May, Vukmir won the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party and since then numerous elected officials, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have endorsed her. Thompson has not yet endorsed, but he issued his statement through the Vukmir campaign.

The poll surveyed 266 likely Republican primary voters between July 11 and Sunday. It had a margin of error of 7 percentage points. It is the last Marquette poll before the primary.

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