MADISON, Wis. — A five-way Republican primary in the 21st Assembly District in Southeastern Wisconsin, in which all candidates boast similar right-wing extremist bona fides, hasn’t prevented GOP bigwigs from pushing aside the grassroots in favor of their hand-picked candidate. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted that, according to campaign finance reports, paid private school voucher advocate Jessie Rodriguez is the beneficiary of a windfall of over $45,600 in spending by a special interest group overseen by disgraced former Assembly Republican Speaker Scott Jensen.
“It’s an embarrassment of riches in the 21st District GOP primary if you’re looking for a candidate that pledges allegiance to the radical-right, Tea Party agenda. Yet Madison GOP insiders and their special interest cronies have put a big money thumb on the scales to try to get their hand-picked candidate though the primary,” said Ross.
All of the candidates boast credentials worthy of the radical right, including supporting the unaccountable private school voucher program, based on a review of publicly available information:
- Larry Gamble is associated with the local Tea Party group the Grandsons of Liberty that has been involved in numerous voter suppression efforts;
- Ken Gehl commemorated the one year anniversary of the horrifying Sikh Temple massacre by voting to approve a massive firing range and gun shop as a member of the Oak Creek City Council;
- Chris Kujawa was closely associated with the Milwaukee County régime of Scott Walker, including a failed run for county board overseen by Tim Russell, the now jailed former top aide to Gov. Walker in Milwaukee County;
- Jason “Red” Arnold, in addition to boasting of an “immense IQ,” on his website also strongly endorses a far-right political agenda and refers to public schools as a “social engineering experiment.”
Despite the right-wing credentials of these candidates, GOP insiders have lined up behind paid advocate for unaccountable private voucher schools, Jessie Rodriguez. The Journal Broadcast Group funded Charlie Sykes project, Right Wisconsin, is consistently promoting her candidacy. And, to date, the pro-voucher special interest group American Federation for Children (AFC) has registered over $45,600 in pro-Rodriguez “independent” expenditures with the state Government Accountability Board.
AFC is headed by disgraced former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, convicted of several crimes related to the so-called caucus scandal of the early 2000s. Jensen’s original conviction was overturned, and Waukesha County District Attorney, the recently announced GOP candidate for Attorney General Brad Schimel, chose not to retry Jensen for his crimes when he had the chance.
Ross concluded, “One can only wonder what Ms. Rodriguez promised for the GOP insiders and their special interest cronies to show so much disrespect to the other right-wing candidates in the race.”