- Associated Press - Thursday, April 26, 2018

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Republican U.S. Senate debate (all times local):

8:45 p.m.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson clashed during closing statements at the end of their otherwise staid first debate.

Nicholson defended his conservative credentials Thursday while Vukmir said her record in the Legislature proves she can be trusted.

Both candidates went about 10 minutes over time after Vukmir said, “We can’t take chances on the unknown.”



That prompted Nicholson, a former Marine and Democrat, to say he “clearly different” and that’s what voters showed they wanted by electing Donald Trump.

Vukmir says her 15-years-experience in the Legislature shows she can be trusted, but more is known about Nicholson’s track record as a Democrat than a Republican. He’s a former Democrat who converted after being in the Marines.

Nicholson says his experience was forged on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

___

8:10 p.m.

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson have stuck closely to their talking points and avoided directly clashing with one another during their first debate.

The contest Thursday hosted by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity featured mostly softball questions that allowed Vukmir and Nicholson to talk about their support for cutting taxes and reforming health care.

While they largely agreed on most of the issues, Nicholson stressed that he would be an outsider who would buck GOP leadership to stand up for his conservative principles.

Vukmir says as a 15-year veteran of the Legislature and close ally of Gov. Scott Walker she has a record Republicans can trust.

The winner of the Republican primary on Aug. 14 will advance to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

___

6:33 a.m.

Republican U.S. Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson are meeting for their first debate ahead of the August primary.

The contest Thursday night is hosted by the conservative group Americans for Prosperity and will be livestreamed by the group on its Facebook page.

The debate comes two weeks before Republicans will vote at their state party convention on whether to endorse Nicholson or Vukmir in the race. The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Vukmir has been emphasizing her deep ties to Republican grass roots fostered over a 15-year career in the Legislature. Nicholson has tried to position himself as the outsider candidate who will disrupt the GOP status quo.

Baldwin is one of the top targets for Republicans in the 2018 election.

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