As 1944 began the frontrunners for the Republican nomination appeared to be Wendell Willkie, the party's 1940 candidate, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, the leader of the party's conservatives, New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, the leader of the party's powerful, moderate eastern establishment, General Douglas MacArthur, then serving as an Allied commander in the Pacific theater of the war, and former Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen, then serving as a U.S. naval officer in the Pacific. However, Taft surprised many by announcing that he was not a candidate; instead he voiced his support for a fellow conservative, Governor John W. Bricker of Ohio. With Taft out of the race some GOP conservatives favored General MacArthur. However, MacArthur's chances were limited by the fact that he was leading Allied forces against Japan, and thus could not campaign for the nomination. His supporters did enter his name in the Wisconsin primary. The Wisconsin primary proved to be the key contest, as Dewey won by a surprisingly wide margin; he took 14 delegates to four for Harold Stassen, while MacArthur won the three remaining delegates. Willkie was shut out in the Wisconsin primary; he did not win a single delegate. His unexpectedly poor showing in Wisconsin forced him to withdraw as a candidate for the nomination.