Wisconsin Republicans may not have gotten the message the RNC has been pushing about how to avoid offending women and minorities.
On Tuesday, State Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) narrowly prevailed in Wisconsin’s sixth congressional district Republican primary, winning by just 215 votes. Grothman will face Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris (D) in the November general election to succeed retiring-Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI).
From offending women to minorities to LGBT people, here is a sampling of Grothman’s extreme positions that have endeared him to Tea Party types but earned condemnation elsewhere:
Women Are Paid Less Because They Don’t Care About Money: For years, women have decried the injustice of being paid less than men for equal work, but Grothman knows women don’t actually need as much money. “You could argue that money is more important for men,” he told the Daily Beast. He also blamed the wage gap on “women’s decision to prioritize childrearing over their careers.” Grothman and Republicans in Wisconsin successfully repealed the state’s equal pay law in 2012.
Martin Luther King Day Shouldn’t Be A Holiday: One might be tempted to think that 21st-century America had made up its mind about whether Martin Luther King, Jr. deserves a federal holiday, but Grothman is still holding out. In 2011, he said the holiday, which gives public employees the day off, “is an insult to all the other taxpayers around the state.” Instead, he forced his employees to work on MLK Day because, in his view, “giving government employees off has nothing to do with honoring Martin Luther King Day and it’s just about giving state employees another day off.” When the Wisconsin State Journal asked Grothman if he planned to honor King during the holiday, he said he’s “got kind of a busy schedule.”
Kwanzaa Is A Fake Holiday Only White People Celebrate: Most gaffes happen when a politician says something controversial in the heat of the moment, but Grothman’s anti-Kwanzaa crusade came in a press release during the holiday in 2012 entitled, “Why Must We Still Hear About Kwanzaa?” Grothman went on to assert that “almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans.” He implored readers to “Be on the lookout if a K-12 or college teacher tries to tell your children or grandchildren it’s a real holiday.”
Supports ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Education Bill: Grothman vigorously opposed a measure to combat “bias against pupils of any race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic or cultural background” because he didn’t believe LGBT students should enjoy these protections. When a reporter asked why he tried (and failed) to remove this provision from a bill, Grothman said he didn’t believe teachers should be allowed to talk about homosexuality. “Would you want your daughter’s teacher in 7th grade talking with her about homosexuality?” he asked. Back when he was in school, Grothman said, “homosexuality was not on anybody’s radar. And that’s a good thing.” He went on to accuse the left of harboring a homosexual “agenda” to convince more students to “bec[o]me homosexuals.”
Believed Voter ID Would Help Republicans Win Wisconsin: After Republicans won the Wisconsin state legislature and governor’s office in 2010, they passed a highly restrictive voter suppression bill that disenfranchised voters who don’t have photo identification at the polls. Grothman not only helped shepherd through the measure, but believed one of the law’s effects would be to help Mitt Romney (R) carry Wisconsin in the 2012 presidential election. In an interview, ThinkProgress asked Grothman whether voter ID “might ultimately help Romney’s campaign here in the state?” The Wisconsin Republican didn’t mince words: “Yes. Right. I think we believe that insofar as there are inappropriate things, people who vote inappropriately are more likely to vote Democrat.”
Opposes Giving Workers A Guaranteed Weekend: In January, Grothman began campaigning against a Wisconsin law that guarantees workers at least one day off each week. He called the law “goofy” and said undoing it would promote “freedom.” Grothman proposed legislation removing this guaranteed time off, saying employees should be free to voluntarily work more. If that were to happen, of course, nothing would stop employers from suggesting that workers should “volunteer” to work on the weekend, lest the boss decide they’re not working hard enough and replace them.
Wants To Let A Woman’s Family Stop Her Abortion: Earlier this year, Grothman fervently lobbied his colleagues to pass new abortion restrictions in the state, including one that could actually give a woman’s parents or in-laws the power to prevent her from having an abortion. Unlike parental consent laws, which only apply to minors, AB 217 gave relatives “injunctive relief” to stop even adult women from having an abortion if they believe she’s doing it to discriminate against a fetus’ gender, a phantom prospect that is virtually non-existent in the United States.
Wisconsin’s sixth congressional district is Republican-leaning, but not decidedly so. Though Romney won the district by seven points in 2012, President Obama narrowly carried it in 2008 over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).