MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republicans struggling with accepting Donald Trump as the party's presidential nominee gather this weekend for the annual state convention in Green Bay, where disparate reactions to the billionaire businessman will be on full display.
While some influential Republicans in the state have yet to publicly warm to Trump and others remain staunchly opposed, still other office holders and activists are slowly coming around and say more will follow.
"People need to be able to lick their wounds, regroup, and move into the next stage," said Brian Westrate, an activist from Eau Claire who voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. "I do believe the party will coalesce."
Westrate is one of the state's 42 delegates to the national convention and will be among about 1,000 party faithful at the convention that begins Friday.
"I'm 100 percent moving forward," Westrate said. "We are going to do everything possible to elect the conservative nominee."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker are among the state and federal elected officials who are slated to speak. Each represents a segment of where Republicans stand on Trump.
Ryan said last week that he couldn't support Trump yet, but the two men said after a meeting Thursday they're committed to working together. Johnson, who is in a tough re-election battle with Democrat Russ Feingold, is standing by his pledge to back whoever becomes the nominee. And Walker, who endorsed Cruz and campaigned hard for him in Wisconsin, is sticking by Trump for the general election.
Others aren't yet on board. Prominent conservative Milwaukee talk radio host Charlie Sykes, who embarrassed Trump in an interview days before Wisconsin's primary, remains outspoken against him. And Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, who warned that Trump as the nominee would "destroy" other GOP candidates' chances elsewhere on the ballot, refuses to endorse him.
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called last week for Republicans to get behind Trump. But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he's still looking for Trump to offer a "Republican vision that people can rally toward."
That's a feeling echoed by many other Republicans.
Bill Jaeck, a longtime Republican activist and fellow delegate to the national convention from Yorkville, said he was in "discover mode" with Trump. Jaeck said it would help if Trump would say who would be in his cabinet, and who he would nominate for any U.S. Supreme Court vacancies.
Patty Reiman, a Republican activist from Whitefish Bay and a delegate to the national convention, did not support Trump but is taking another look at him out of "due diligence."
"I am a true Republican so I do have some concerns with his stands on some of the issues," she said.
Reiman, like many Republicans, said she was worried about how having Trump as the presidential candidate could affect other races. But she said she thinks the party would ultimately support Trump.
"I believe we will because it's important that we do not have a Democrat in office," Reiman said. "If our candidate is Donald Trump, he will also align himself with good people are good conservatives. I'm confident this will all come together."
Trump clearly has ground to make up among Republicans in Wisconsin, a state where he lost to Cruz just five weeks ago by 13 points.
In a Marquette University Law School poll taken a week before Wisconsin's primary, 55 percent said they were uncomfortable with the idea of Trump as president — the highest negatives for any candidate. Even among Republican primary voters, 23 percent said they were uncomfortable with Trump — higher than either Cruz or Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
That same poll showed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton defeating Trump by 10 points in Wisconsin.