Republican State Rep. Hans Hunt of Wyoming, who gained national notoriety when he told a new resident "by all means, leave" after she complained about his state's decision to allow concealed carry in schools, says he's been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support from across the nation.
Until recently, Rep. Hunt was a complete unknown outside of his home state of Wyoming. Then, when he responded bluntly to an angry letter from a constituent with one of the more blunt rejoinders issued by a politician, everything changed.
Now, Hunt has gotten his first taste of national attention, and apparently it's been positive enough to make him willing to talk to TheBlaze about his stern email, what he wished he had said, and where all this might take him politically.
You can read his thoughts on his new-found fame, and on his political future, below.
TheBlaze: So let's start with the obvious question regarding your bluntly worded email. We obviously don't see that from politicians very often these days. Did you write that email yourself, or did one of your staff?
Rep. Hans Hunt: I wrote it myself. We don't have any staff in Wyoming. We have to do everything ourselves. It was a long day, and I was going through the emails and landed on that, and so I felt I had to respond, so I just hammered that out in a short time, and I just sort of spoke what was coming from my heart in that moment.
TheBlaze: Presumably that wasn't the first piece of hate mail you've received from a constituent. In fact, this woman wasn't even from your district. Why choose that email to respond to specifically?
Rep. Hans Hunt: It was the end of a long day and I threw that out there. I never really put much thought into it. I just sort of spoke what I was thinking of off the top of my head. I've received many emails, but I've never really responded in quite that fashion before. I said that and I had no idea that it would bloom into the phenomenon that it's become.
TheBlaze: Speaking of the phenomenon that it's become, would you say the reaction has been mostly positive or mostly negative?
Rep. Hans Hunt: It's been overwhelmingly positive, and I've received about 2,400 emails since that story went up on TheBlaze. We have no staff here, we're responsible for doing our own correspondence, so I've just been doing my best to wade through it, but it's coming from all over the country, and the vast majority of it has been favorable.
Most of it is from outside Wyoming. Most of it seems to be from conservative people in majority liberal areas. I get a lot of email from people in California, New York, Colorado, etc.
TheBlaze: Have you thought of parlaying that positive reaction into further political advancement for your own career?
Rep. Hans Hunt: I certainly appreciate the support that I've been getting from people, but honestly it's been so overwhelming, that I don't really plan to market myself on this in any way. It's been an interesting experience and it's been a positive experience by and large. I'm happy to let it run its course.
TheBlaze: You're the youngest member of the Wyoming legislature. In fact, you got elected while you were still in college, so presumably you knew you wanted to get into this field from the beginning. Why pursue a political career, given the poor reputation politicians seem to increasingly have these days?
Rep. Hans Hunt: I've always been interested in politics and current events and what not. Our family has always been politically involved. My mother was county commission back in the 90's. It's always held interest to me. I wanted to run for a position at some point, and I had planned on waiting a few years. I was still in school, still completing my Bachelors' when I put my name in the hat in 2010, but I was planning on waiting a few years, and then a representative who had been in office for 18 years announced that he was retiring and would not run in 2010, so I figured that I might as well give it a shot, so I jumped off the cliff.
TheBlaze: How has the experience been, given your relative youth?
Rep. Hans Hunt: It's provided additional challenges. By and large, most people are 20 years older than me or more. Other than the handful of us who are under the age of 40. When I was first sworn in at the age of 22, it was an additional challenge, because you sort of have to prove to some of the older members who've been there a while that you're serious about what you're doing, and you're serious about taking on the full responsibility of the office and everything that goes with it, but I feel that I held up those standards and people respected that.
TheBlaze: How have your fellow legislators responded to this news story about your email?
Rep. Hans Hunt: The sentiment there is positive. It's been positive on that end.
TheBlaze: Anyone you look to as a particular political idol or mentor?
Rep. Hans Hunt: Nobody off the top of my head has motivated me to do this, other than members of my family. I certainly look up to many politicians that we've had throughout history, but as far as the natural motivation, I can't really say that anybody of note has been that inspiration, other than my family.
Rev. Audette Fulbright's Response: