MADISON -- Donald Trump's presidential campaign has hired its first paid staff in Wisconsin, a state that's expected to be a key target for the Republican in the race against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Vince Trovato confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that he will be leading Trump's efforts in Wisconsin, though his official title won't be announced for a couple weeks. Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Pat Garrett identified Trovato as Trump's state director.
Trovato referred all questions about his hiring to Trump's national campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks, who did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Clinton has had paid staff in Wisconsin since early May, led by Jacob Hajdu, who previously served as political director and executive director of the Democratic Party Of Wisconsin. Clinton currently has five paid staff members in her Madison-based office, and more field offices are expected to open in coming weeks.
No Republican presidential candidate has won Wisconsin since 1984. Trump lost Wisconsin's April 5 presidential primary by 13 points to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. It was Trump's last primary defeat before he went on to become the presumptive nominee.
There was a strong anti-Trump push in Wisconsin that helped fuel his defeat, with influential conservative talk radio hosts in Milwaukee and other major media markets at the forefront. Gov. Scott Walker campaigned heavily for Cruz and many other Republican office holders opposed Trump.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Janesville, endorsed Trump earlier this month, but has since decried remarks the candidate made about a Latino judge as the "textbook definition of a racist comment." And this week, Ryan emphasized his opposition to Trump's call for a temporary ban on Muslims coming to the U.S. saying that wasn't "in our country's interest" or "reflective of our principles not just as a party, but as a country."
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who is in a tough re-election fight with Democrat Russ Feingold, has said he supports Trump but doesn't endorse him. Johnson this week also said he disagreed with Trump's proposed ban on Muslims.
Walker previously said he would endorse Trump as the GOP nominee, but last week hedged by saying he wanted to see how Trump conducted himself between now and the national convention next month in Cleveland.
Trovato has spent years behind the scenes in Republican politics. When he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Trovato worked as an intern for Walker, who was in the state Assembly at the time. According to an online biography, Trovato also served on the executive board of the Waukesha County Republican Party and the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, and worked as a policy adviser for the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Trovato ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for the state Assembly in 2014 for a seat in heavily conservative Waukesha County, coming in third place in the GOP primary.
Thiensville village president Van Mobley, one of the most vocal Trump supporters before Wisconsin's primary, said Trovato had worked for Trump's campaign during the primary.
"From my experience Vince is a nice guy," Mobley said. "And a good pick."