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He finished second in a bid for for the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s endorsement, but that didn’t stop U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann from declaring himself top dog in separate fundraising appeals.
"Victory! Republicans by 2 to 1 vote to endorse Mark Neumann on first ballot at GOP convention!," a pop-up appeal covering Neumann’s website said. "Join the Republican Party and conservative activists who voted to endorse Mark."
That sounds an awful lot like Neumann walked away with the party endorsement -- and on the first ballot.
No mention was made, on the website or in an email fundraising appeal, of the fact that not only did Neumann not win the endorsement -- no candidate reached the 60 percent voting threshhold to claim the prize.
So has down come to mean up?
In the spin zone, yes. But not on the Truth-O-Meter.
Neumann, a businessman and former congressman, finished first in the first of three ballots at the party gathering. Each round of balloting narrowed the four-person field by one candidate. Businessman Eric Hovde dropped off first, then, in a surprise, former Gov. Tommy Thompson fell out.
That left Neumann and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald in the final runoff.
But neither one passed the 60 percent threshold needed to win the party’s nod and nobody emerged with the endorsement. Fitzgerald actually edged Neumann with 51.5 percent. (We rated a related Fitzgerald claim of a "win" at the convention Mostly True)
What about Neumann’s claim of "victory" related to the "2 to 1 vote to endorse" him.
He argues he won the most telling vote, when all four candidates were on the ballot for delegates, as they will be when facing voters in the September 2012 primary.
In that first round, Neumann had 42 percent, Fitzgerald 21 percent, Thompson 20 percent and Hovde 16 percent.
That’s the 2-to-1 margin, Neumann’s camp says. But that’s only true if you compare his share to any one of his rivals. Neumann didn’t win 65 or 70 percent of the vote, as his "2-to-1" claim suggests.
Neumann was the frontrunner on the first two ballots, but his support stalled in the upper 40s, while Fitzgerald’s jumped to the slim majority in the final round.
Neumann never got even a majority, much less 60 percent.
Some observers -- and Neumann’s camp -- say Thompson and Hovde supporters voted tactically with Fitzgerald to deny Neumann the endorsement on later ballots.
It’s clear Neumann had something to crow about. He vanquished Thompson, the frontrunner in the polls, and led the pack on the earliest ballot. But that’s like declaring victory at the first turn and not the finish line.
Neumann was runner-up on the final vote. And it’s highly misleading to say he was "endorsed" by delegates when no such endorsement was made.
We rate Neumann’s "victory" and "endorsement" claim False.
(You can comment on this item on the Journal Sentinel's website.)
Phone interview with Chip Englander, Neumann campaign spokesperson, May 14, 2012
Phone interview with Jeff Fitzgerald, U.S. Senate candidate, May 14, 2012
Neumann website appeal, accessed May 14, 2012
Neumann email appeal, May 14, 2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Senate hopefuls fail to win endorsement," May 12, 2012
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