- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin Republicans at their annual convention Saturday defeated a tea party-backed resolution demanding that legislators pass bills affirming the state’s right to secede and nullifying federal laws.

The GOP’s conservative wing in southeastern Wisconsin’s 6th Congressional District proposed the measure in March. It called on state lawmakers to uphold the state’s right to secede under “extreme circumstances” based on the U.S. Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which says powers the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government belong to the states.

The measure also called for legislation that would nullify President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Common Core academic standards, indefinite detention, any presidential order that circumvents Congress and drone use in Wisconsin.

Rock County delegate Don Hilbig of Beloit tried to convince his fellow convention-goers to adopt the resolution. It’s still unclear whether states have a legal right to secede, he said, so the states should reserve that right for themselves.

“The only way secession was considered was on the battlefield,” he told the convention, referring to the Civil War. “Of course, secession lost on that. But in the court system, secession is still an open question. So it should be retained as a sovereign right.”

Republican officials conscious of a public backlash tried to downplay the resolution. Gov. Scott Walker has said he doesn’t support the resolution. And on Friday, 50 Assembly Republicans sent a letter to convention delegates urging them to reject the resolution, calling it a distraction.

“Unfortunately, a small minority of members wish to prove a meaningless point by voting on a resolution regarding secession,” the letter said. “We need to win elections and we will not win elections on a platform that includes secession.”

Longshot Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brett Hulsey, a state representative from Madison, mocked the delegates over the resolution on Friday evening, standing outside their hotel dressed as a Confederate soldier.

Ultimately, the delegates approved a motion on a voice vote to strip the secession language from the resolution. They then rejected a motion to reinsert it and struck down the entire proposal on voice votes.

“The party spoke loudly today that secession is not something we support,” Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Joe Fadness said.

The delegates later considered a separate resolution demanding that legislators nullify Obama’s health care changes in Wisconsin, sparking a fierce debate. Supporters argued it’s time for states to stand up to the federal government and reject the changes. Opponents argued the resolution would lead to more damaging headlines on the heels of the secession measure and reduce the party to a laughing stock.

It appeared the delegates defeated the resolution on a voice vote, but supporters demanded a head count. Convention officials agreed, but the result was unchanged. The resolution failed 303-145.

Wisconsin Democratic Party spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in an email to The Associated Press that Republicans can spend as much time as they like on secession and nullification. Democrats are focused on helping Mary Burke, the front-runner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, defeat Walker, she said.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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