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Wisconsin delegates celebrate newfound status with beer, brats

A delegate from Wisconsin wore a hat in the shape of cheese at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday.


A delegate from Wisconsin wore a hat in the shape of cheese at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Wednesday.

TAMPA _ Beer, bratwurst, and a polka band greeted the new royalty at the Republican National Convention Wednesday afternoon. When you’re from Wisconsin, you don’t put on airs. Instead, you break out aluminum trays of ``hot dish’’ casserole and Rice Krispies treats.

The state’s delegation gathered under a huge tent near the convention hall Wednesday afternoon to revel in their sky-high influence. Wisconsin Republicans have a congressman, Paul Ryan, on the ticket as the vice presidential nominee; another homegrown son, Reince Priebus, who serves as chairman of the Republican National Committee and is in charge of the convention; and a governor, Scott Walker, whose national profile soared after he weathered a union-backed recall election in June.

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None of this is going to anyone’s (cheese)head, say the delegates.

``What you see is what you get,’’ with Ryan and the rest of the Wisconsinites, said Maripat Kruger, a delegate from Menomonie.

Ryan, she said, will do more than deliver Wisconsin to the GOP.

``I think he’s going to put going to put all of America over the top,’’ she said. ``We’re stoked up.’’

Working the back of the tent was Wisconsin Representative Sean Duffy, a former competitive lumberjack who won office after showing off his log-rolling skills in campaign spots. Duffy is familiar with Boston, having appeared in the MTV reality show ``The Real World: Boston,’’ the 1997 season, which was set in a converted Beacon Hill firehouse.

Ryan, said Duffy, has won the respect of conservatives and liberals alike for his command of budget detail and his cordial and substantive debating style. And now Wisconsin has won new respect at the convention, he said.

This year its delegation has prime floor space in the Tampa Bay Times Forum and is staying in a bank of hotel rooms in the sleek downtown Hyatt Regency Tampa, a few blocks away.

``Usually we’re in the back corner,’’ he said, ``and we’re in a hotel that’s 40 miles away.’’

Christopher Rowland can be reached at
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