- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 3, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Republican Senate unity pledge (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

Madison businessman Eric Hovde says he still hasn’t decided on whether he’ll run for Senate, but if he does he would agree to a unity pledge.

Hovde commented Wednesday after the two announced Republican Senate candidates signed the newly offered unity pledge from the state party and Sen. Ron Johnson.

Hours after signing the pledge, Vukmir and Nicholson were fighting again over whether Nicholson should disavow support from former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Hovde ran for Senate in 2012 and came in second in the Republican primary that year. He says in a text message that he still hasn’t decided whether to get into this race.

Hovde has the ability to self-finance a run, allowing him to get in later than other candidates and still be a factor.

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5:35 p.m.

A super PAC run by former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is launching a $1 million television ad campaign to benefit Wisconsin Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson.

The John Bolton SuperPAC announced Wednesday it was launching the ads in Green Bay television market from Thursday through Jan. 19. They will also run online and on radio.

Nicholson is running against state Sen. Leah Vukmir in the Republican Senate primary. The winner will take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.

Bolton says the ads will highlight Nicholson’s experience as a Marine. Nicholson now works as a business consultant in Delafield. In addition to Bolton, he’s won the backing of former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Vukmir has been a state lawmaker since 2003 and has the backing of many state and local GOP elected officials, party leaders and others.

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11:45 a.m.

Republican Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson have signed a unity pledge.

The pledge put forward Wednesday by the state party and Sen. Ron Johnson calls on the loser in the August primary to support the winner. The race between Vukmir and Nicholson has already sharply divided many in the party.

Signing the pledge gives the candidate access to the names of potential delegates to the Republican Party convention in May who will be voting on who to endorse.

Both Nicholson and Vukmir tweeted images of the signed pledge Wednesday shortly after it was announced.

Madison businessman Eric Hovde is also considering running. He did not immediately return a text message asking his thoughts on the pledge.

The Republican primary winner will face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in November.

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11:05 a.m.

The spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party says a new Republican unity pledge for the GOP Senate race “shows how nasty their primary has become.”

The Republican Party and Sen. Ron Johnson unveiled the pledge Wednesday. Both Republican candidates, state Sen. Leah Vukmir and businessman Kevin Nicholson, agreed to sign it. The pledge says the loser of the primary will endorse the winner.

Democratic Party spokesman Brad Bainum says the fact that Republicans felt they needed such a pledge shows have “nasty” the primary is.

Republican leaders began discussing the pledge in September. Johnson says in a statement announcing the pledge that Republicans in Wisconsin should determine who wins the Senate primary not “political experts” from Washington, D.C.

Nicholson is backed by former White House strategist Steve Bannon.

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10:20 a.m.

Republican Senate candidates Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson say they will both sign a proposed unity pledge.

The pledge put forward Wednesday by the state party and Sen. Ron Johnson calls on the loser in the August primary to support the winner. The race between Vukmir and Nicholson has already sharply divided many in the party.

Signing the pledge gives the candidate access to the names of potential delegates to the Republican Party convention in May who will be voting on who to endorse.

Vukmir says she’s proud to sign it and has “always supported the party nominee.

Nicholson adviser Kevin Nicholson says he will “of course” sign it and hopes all Republicans will unite behind efforts to defeat Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

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9:45 a.m.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and the Republican Party of Wisconsin are calling on Republican candidates for Senate to sign a unity pledge.

The proposal put forward Wednesday calls for the loser of the August primary to agree to support the winner. Whoever signs it will be given the names of likely delegates to the state convention who will be voting in May on who will get the party’s official endorsement.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, of Brookfield, is running against Delafield businessman and political newcomer Kevin Nicholson in the GOP primary. The winner will face Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Vukmir is well-known among Republicans, having been in the Legislature since 2003. Nicholson’s campaign is backed by former President Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

Neither Vukmir nor Nicholson had immediate comment.

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