Eau Claire County GOP holding 'Liberty Fest' on Saturday

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Sep. 16—CHIPPEWA FALLS — In an effort to grow the Republican Party of Eau Claire County and energize the party faithful, the organization is holding a rally this weekend that will feature most of the top area Republican candidates for office.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany, and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch are among the lineup of speakers for the event Saturday at the Sleep Inn Suites Conference Center in the town of Wheaton.

"I expect we'll be sold out, and that's 500 people," said Scott Bolstad, chairman of the Republican Party of Eau Claire County. "We haven't done anything this big in a long time. It's just an idea we kicked around."

Bolstad is excited that he was able to line up all the candidates for state office. Kleefisch is running to unseat Gov. Tony Evers. Other candidates expected to appear are David Varnam (Lt. Governor), Derrick Van Orden (3rd Congressional District), Ryan Owens and Eric Toney (attorney general) and Orlando Owens (state treasurer). He said it is important to show the Chippewa Valley's role in helping candidates win statewide offices.

There also will be a roundtable segment with state legislators Kathy Bernier, Rob Summerfield, Jesse James and Clint Moses. Bolstad said State Rep. Warren Petryk has a prior engagment.

"This is more of a rally," Bolstad said.

Tickets are $30 at the door, but Bolstad cautioned that he is nearing a sellout. He said they opted to keep prices down to reflect that the GOP is becoming more of a working class party, and has changed since Donald Trump became the party nominee in 2016.

Bolstad said he wants to grow the party, and this event has already led to several people officially becoming members of the county's GOP organization.

"We lost members because we were too 'Trumpy;' we lost members who thought we weren't 'Trumpy' enough," Bolstad said. "There are folks in the party who Trump turned off, and may not come back."

Bolstad said he sees an energy in Eau Claire County over the possibiity of the Republican Party winning the 3rd District congressional seat in 2022.

"I don't think people realize the impact of Ron Kind deciding not to run," Bolstad said. "It was like an earthquake went through the 3rd Congressional District."

Among the speakers slated to appear is U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who has become a party favorite for defending party politics and Trump. Jordan was selected to serve on the Jan. 6 Commission, but was later rejected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Republican Party ultimately pulled all five House members from the commission.

"I think he's mainly going to talk about the situation in the country. He's not too happy," Bolstad said. "He's going to talk about the economy and the situation in Afghanistan."

Another speaker will be UW-Oshkosh English professor Duke Pesta.

"He's going to talk about critical race theory," Bolstad said. "He's long been a watchdog on that."

Barron-based singer Chris Kroeze, known for his performance on NBC's "The Voice," also will be singing at the event.

To learn more, visit eauclairerepublicans.com

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