Washington Bureau

08.13.14

Wisconsin Nominates Wingnut to Congress

In choosing state Sen. Glenn Grothman on Tuesday, Wisconsin Republicans selected a congressional nominee who is anti-Martin Luther King Jr. Day and supported Uganda’s anti-gay laws.

Worried that with the retirement of Michele Bachmann and the quixotic Senate campaign of Steve Stockman this year, Congress wouldn’t have right-wingers prone to making controversial, off-the-wall statements? Worry no longer—it looks as if Glenn Grothman, a Kwanzaa-hating, gay-bashing advocate of a seven-day workweek, might be headed to Capitol Hill next year. 

Grothman, who is the kind of conservative that Democrats who write fundraising emails dream of, appeared to win a primary for a Republican-leaning congressional district in eastern Wisconsin on Tuesday. Though a recount is likely, Grothman had a 215-vote lead in the initial tally.

A three-term state senator, Grothman defeated two serious competitors for the seat being vacated by Tom Petri, a moderate Republican first elected during the Carter administration. But while Petri flew under the radar through his House career as a respected legislator, Grothman has long drawn national attention for all the wrong reasons.

A short list of Grothman’s most controversial moments would include his attack on Kwanzaa as an anti-Christian attempt by “white left-wingers...to shove [the holiday] down black people’s throats in an effort to divide Americans,” his opposition to equal pay for women, his belief that Martin Luther King Jr. Day shouldn’t be a holiday, and his advocacy for a seven-day workweek. That doesn’t even touch on his forays into social issues, like attacking Planned Parenthood as racist or when, explaining his opposition to a law to protect gay students from bullying, he recalled his high school years with nostalgia by saying, “Homosexuality was not on anybody’s radar and that’s a good thing.” Most recently, Grothman attacked Secretary of State John Kerry for upsetting God. Kerry’s apparent offense was to condemn an anti-gay law passed in Uganda that made homosexuality a crime punishable by life in prison.

Grothman isn’t guaranteed a seat in Congress if his lead holds, though. Mitt Romney only won his congressional seat 53-47 in 2012, and it’s possible that Democratic nominee Mark Harris could pull off an upset. But regardless of the outcome in the general election, one thing is certain: With his history of ill-timed comments, Grothman will be causing plenty of headaches for his fellow Republicans between now and November.