A controversial Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor is so convinced that Republican policies are racist that he’s planning to hand out white Ku Klux Klan-style hoods at the state’s annual GOP convention Friday.
State Rep. Brett Hulsey said he hand-made the hoods with his daughter’s sewing machine. And while they most certainly carry with them an overtly negative connotation, Hulsey said he is leaving much to the imaginations of those who receive them.
“It’s a Wisconsin Republican Party hat,” Hulsey, considered a long-shot gubernatorial contender, told the Associated Press. “And people can interpret it any way they want.”
When asked by the Wisconsin State Journal if handing out the hoods would be perceived as offensive, he responded: “What I find offensive is Gov. Walker and the Republicans’ racist record. They’re the ones considering the resolution to leave the United States.”
Hulsey, by his own admission, is using the opportunity to mix humor and provocation and a very serious message. And this apparently isn’t the first time he’s taken an uncommon or odd approach.
The AP noted that Hulsey once considering bringing a musket to the Assembly floor in an effort to rail against concealed carry proposals. In a separate incident, he apparently brought a box cutter to the state Capitol in an effort to train a female aide in self-defense; that aide ended up becoming uncomfortable and filing a complaint with police saying she feared for her safety.
Hulsey also once pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct citation after he was accused of flipping a 9-year-old boy off of an inner tube at a Wisconsin beach — and of taking pictures of the child.
In an interview with the Journal in 2013, Hulsey said he was getting counseling to deal with childhood abuse. At the time, he admitted to “pushing a little too hard” and attempted to address some of his past behaviors.
Both parties have come forward to distance themselves from Hulsey’s hood scheme.
“We take serious issue with the policies pursued by Republicans that disproportionately affect communities of color, but this type of behavior has no place in the public dialogue,” said Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate, according to the Journal.
But while some dismiss it as inappropriate — with Wisconsin Republican Party executive director Joe Fadness calling his hood give-a-way a “reprehensible, vile stunt” – Hulsey simply believes he’s calling attention to negative policies he believes the GOP embraces.
“They need to own up to their racism, which is what I am trying to highlight,” Hulsey told the AP.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.