"No place in the Republican Party:" Wisconsin GOP distances itself from Paul Ryan foe Paul Nehlen after Twitter posts

MADISON — Wisconsin Republicans are distancing themselves from Paul Nehlen, a Republican challenger to House Speaker Paul Ryan who has been suspended from Twitter after a series of posts criticized as being racist or anti-Semitic.

Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Tuesday that membership dues Nehlen paid to county parties in Kenosha, Walworth and Racine counties in 2016 and 2017 have been refunded to Nehlen or donated to charity.

“Paul Nehlen is not a member of the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Nehlen and his ideas have no place in the Republican Party,” Zimmerman said.

Nehlen was banned from Twitter on Sunday after tweeting an image that replaced the mixed-race fiancé of Prince Harry with a dark-skinned prehistoric Briton known as "Cheddar Man." Nehlen had previously posted a list of his critics and said most were Jewish.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says "it looks to me like he's a racist bigot."

Nehlen has not paid membership dues in 2018 and isn’t a current member of any county Republican party, Zimmerman said.

Mandela Barnes, a former state representative from Milwaukee and a current Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, criticized Republicans for their handling of controversial politicians.

"They can dismiss Paul Nehlen all they want, but they still have that whole president situation going on," Barnes tweeted.

Nehlen was soundly defeated in his only other political race, as Ryan beat him by 68 points in the 2016 GOP primary.