Leah Vukmir

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Leah Vukmir
State Sen. Leah Vukmir speaks at the Racine Tea Party event on Jan. 13, 2013. (8379730772).jpg
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 5th district
In office
January 3, 2011 – January 7, 2019
Preceded byJim Sullivan
Succeeded byDale P. Kooyenga
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 14th district
In office
November 5, 2002 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byScott Walker
Succeeded byDale P. Kooyenga
Personal details
Leah Papachristou

(1958-04-26) April 26, 1958 (age 61)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)George Vukmir
EducationMarquette University (BSN)
University of Wisconsin–Madison (MSN)
WebsiteOfficial website

Leah Vukmir (née Papachristou; born April 26, 1958) is a former member of the Wisconsin Senate and pediatric nurse practitioner. A Republican, she represented Wisconsin's 5th District. She previously served in the Wisconsin Assembly.[1] Vukmir was the Republican nominee in the 2018 U.S. Senate election in Wisconsin, running unsuccessfully against incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin. In March 2019, Vukmir became vice president of state affairs at the National Taxpayers Union.[2]

Early life, education, and career[edit]

Vukmir was born Leah Papachristou in Milwaukee on April 26, 1958,[3] the daughter of immigrants from Greece.[4] She graduated from Brookfield East High School in Brookfield, Wisconsin in 1976.[3] Vukmir received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Marquette University in 1980, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1983.[5] She was a registered nurse and a pediatric nurse practitioner.[4]

Wisconsin legislature[edit]

Vukmir speaking at a "Women for Romney" rally at Marquette University on September 20, 2012

Vukmir was first elected in November 2002, succeeding Scott Walker (R), who was elected in a special election as Milwaukee County Executive. She was the ranking member of the Assembly’s Committee on Health and Health Care Reform. She was also a member of the committees on Public Health, Education Reform, Education and Criminal Justice.[6]

Vukmir announced on June 25, 2009, that she was challenging incumbent Democratic State Senator Jim Sullivan for the 5th district seat in 2010.[7] The race attracted large amounts of out-of-state campaign contributions, with 7% of Sullivan's donors and 14% of Vukmir's donors being residents of Wauwatosa.[8] On November 2, 2010, Vukmir defeated Sullivan for reelection.[9] She was succeeded in her Assembly seat by fellow Republican Dale Kooyenga.

Vukmir opposes medical marijuana and has said that there is no medical reason to use it.[10] At a public hearing in 2009, she was booed after accusing fellow legislators Jon Erpenbach and Mark Pocan of using dying cancer patients to further a secret agenda of legalization.[11]

Vukmir is on the Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),[12] a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives who draft and share model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States. In June 2013, the Center for Media and Democracy sued Vukmir, contending she had violated Wisconsin's open records law by not turning over records related to her involvement with ALEC. Vukmir responded by claiming she could not be sued while in office.[13] The lawsuit was settled in 2014, with the state of Wisconsin agreeing to pay $15,000 and Vukmir turning over e-mails from her personal Yahoo! account that she said she had withheld due to technical issues.[14]

In December 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Justice released a report criticizing a secret state investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. During the course of the investigation, the state had seized the personal emails of 35 Republican lawmakers, including Vukmir. Included among the emails was correspondence between Vukmir and her daughter that included private medical information. Some of the emails were placed into a folder on state computers marked "opposition research." Vukmir wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal criticizing the investigation, which she said was politically motivated and "un-American."[15][16][17]

2018 United States Senate election[edit]

On September 7, 2017, Vukmir announced that she would seek the 2018 Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.[18]

During the primary campaign, Vukmir ran ads in which she attempted to link Baldwin with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, mastermind of the September 11 attacks, calling them "Team Terrorists". PolitiFact rated the claims as "Pants on Fire" wrong.[19]

On May 12, 2018, Vukmir secured the endorsement of the Wisconsin Republican Party at the state convention with 73 percent of the vote, besting former Marine Kevin Nicholson. Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus praised what he termed Vukmir's proven track record of advancing a conservative agenda.[20]

Vukmir won the Republican primary election on August 14, 2018[21] and was afterwards endorsed by President Donald Trump.[22] She lost to incumbent Democrat Tammy Baldwin in the general election by ten percentage points on November 6, 2018.[23]

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin 5th Senate District election 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Leah Vukmir 36,852 52.15
Democratic Jim Sullivan (incumbent) 33,702 47.69
Wisconsin 5th Senate District election 2014
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Leah Vukmir 55,869 73.6 +21.45
Libertarian Wendy Friedrich 20,020 26.4
Republican U.S. Senate Primary Election, 2018[24]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Leah Vukmir 217,023 48.9%
Republican Kevin Nicholson 190,840 43.0%
Republican George Lucia 18,803 4.2%
Republican Griffin Jones 8,764 2.0%
Republican Charles Barman 7,937 1.8%
Total votes 443,367 100%
2018 United States Senate election, Wisconsin
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tammy Baldwin 1,471,240 55.43%
Republican Leah Vukmir 1,182,929 44.57%

Personal life[edit]

Vukmir attends Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa.[4] She was at one time an active speedskater: a member of the West Allis Speedskating Club and an Amateur Speedskating Union referee.[25]


  1. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. State of Wisconsin 2009-2010 Blue Book. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization, 2009, p. 29.
  2. ^ Glauber, Bill (March 6, 2019). "Former Wisconsin legislator Leah Vukmir joins conservative National Taxpayers Union". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Senator Leah Vukmir". Wisconsin State Legislature. Retrieved June 9, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Matt Hrodey (September 22, 2016). "How Leah Vukmir Built a Fortified Position for Herself in the State's Conservative Battleground". Milwaukee Magazine.
  5. ^ Ricardo Torres, Vukmir pleads her case to the voters, Journal Times (August 3, 2018).
  6. ^ "2017 Wisconsin State Representatives". www.legis.state.wi.us. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  7. ^ Wispolitics Vukmir Announces Run
  8. ^ Maley, Mark (August 25, 2010). "Vukmir, Sullivan getting cash from everywhere". Wauwautosa Now. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-18. Retrieved 2010-11-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Sides square off in state Legislature over medical marijuana". Winona Daily News. December 15, 2009.
  11. ^ "Wisconsin politician accuses medical marijuana supporters of secret agenda". Duluth News Tribune. December 15, 2009. Archived from the original on July 29, 2012.
  12. ^ "Board of Directors". American Legislative Exchange Council. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  13. ^ Marley, Patrick; Jason Stein (September 12, 2013). "Sen. Leah Vukmir tries to sidestep open records suit". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
  14. ^ Stein, Jason (March 28, 2014). "State to pay $15,000 in settlement of suit against Vukmir". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  15. ^ Marley, Patrick; Stein, Jason (December 7, 2017). "John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker gathered millions of pages of records from Republicans". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  16. ^ Pasque, Lisa Speckhard (December 10, 2017). "State Sen Leah Vukmir is 'certain' the collection of her private messages was 'politically motivated'". Capital Times. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  17. ^ Vukmir, Leah (December 10, 2017). "An Attack on My Privacy in Wisconsin's Political War". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  18. ^ Glabuer, Bill (September 7, 2017). "Leah Vukmir enters Republican U.S. Senate race in bid to unseat Democrat Tammy Baldwin". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  19. ^ Kertscher, Tom (May 18, 2018). "Pants on Fire for attack that, without evidence, links U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin with 9/11 mastermind". politifact.com.
  20. ^ Bauer, Scott (May 12, 2018). "Wisconsin GOP Senate Candidate Vukmir Wins Party Endorsement". US News.
  21. ^ Greenwood, Max (August 14, 2018). "Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary". The Hill.
  22. ^ Donald J. Trump. "Congratulations to Leah Vukmir of Wisconsin on your great win last night. You beat a very tough and good competitor and will make a fantastic Senator after winning in November against someone who has done very little. You have my complete and total Endorsement!". Twitter.
  23. ^ Glauber, Bill. "Tammy Baldwin's win - the largest in a top race in Wisconsin in 12 years - offers road map for 2020". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Election results: Wisconsin and Milwaukee-area fall primary election". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved August 15, 2018.
  25. ^ Barish, Lawrence S., ed. State of Wisconsin 2003-2004 Blue Book Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 2003; p. 29

External links[edit]

Wisconsin State Assembly
Preceded by
Scott Walker
Member of the Wisconsin Assembly
from the 14th district

Succeeded by
Dale P. Kooyenga
Wisconsin State Senate
Preceded by
Jim Sullivan
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 5th district

Succeeded by
Dale P. Kooyenga
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tommy Thompson
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wisconsin
(Class 1)

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