Despite the fact that most of the media attention is focused on the continuing struggle between Ill. Sen. Barack Obama and N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton, Wisconsin Republicans are gearing up for today's primary.
With up to about 39 delegates at stake, local GOP leaders say that the biting February temperatures won't keep voters from going to the polls.
Steven Brody, the GOP chairman for Iowa County, located in the southwest part of the state, thinks that a strong victory for Ariz. Sen. John McCain would give him the last push he needs to secure the nomination.
"A win for McCain says that the Republican Party wants its nominee over and done with, so McCain can begin fundraising for the general election," he said. "The convention would be a formality."
If things don't go McCain's way, however, that might be a sign that the GOP isn't quite settled on their presumed nominee.
"If Huckabee were to win, then you would have to take from it that conservatives don't want the race to be over yet," he said. "This would, of course, be due to displeasure with McCain's position on several issues."
But "a Huckabee close second-place finish is about the same as coming in close in horseshoes and hand grenades," he added.
As it stands, Wisconsin conservatives may not be ready to embrace McCain, despite his several overtures to the right, including pitches for maintaining the Bush administration's tax cuts.
"There are many conservatives not happy with McCain, and will have to struggle with supporting him over the Democrat nominee," Brody said.
That being said, Brody said that the various constituencies in the GOP will just have to accept McCain.
"Ultimately, the Republican Party will need to come together to elect [him], because he will be better than any of the Democrats. My challenge is to make sure that disgruntled conservatives do not stay home in November but to remind them what is at stake."
Tyler August is the GOP's chairman for the 1st Congressional District in southeast Wisconsin, an area that includes Kenosha and Racine Counties and portions of Rock, Walworth, Waukesha, and Milwaukee Counties.
He predicted that the results of the primary won't shock anybody.
"This race is over ... McCain is our nominee," he said. "Both Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul are wasting their time continuing their campaigns. I am all for giving voters a choice, but, again, at this time the race is over. Now Huckabee and Paul just look silly."
He thinks Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Rep. Ron Paul should have dropped out weeks ago. And while not all of Wisconsin's Republicans are jazzed about McCain, they definitely don't want the Democrats to run away with the presidential race's momentum.
"There are some grassroots people happy about the nomination being locked up and some folks who are unhappy," he said.
"At the end of the day, though, all Republicans can agree that a Clinton or Obama presidency would be bad for our country. That will be the rallying cry heading into November that you'll hear from the base of our party."
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