By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Madison legislator who was cited for flipping a young boy off an inner tube at the beach and mused about lugging a musket onto the Assembly floor announced Monday he’ll run for governor.
Rep. Brett Hulsey joins three other Democrats already vying for the party’s nomination, including Mary Burke, Marcia Mercedes Perkins and Hariprasad Trivedi. The four will face off in an Aug. 12 primary. The winner will advance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the general election on Nov. 4.
Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and state commerce secretary, is the clear front-runner for the nomination. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Burke had $1.32 million in the bank as of Dec. 31. Trivedi had $190. Mercedes Perkins said she hasn’t raised any money yet.
Hulsey faced two primary challengers for his Assembly seat. His gubernatorial bid means he can’t seek re-election to the Legislature, but he can transfer over the $2,898 that was in his Assembly campaign account at the end of the year to his gubernatorial bid.
He issued a statement Monday saying he has a $2.1 billion plan to create clean energy jobs, increase job training, invest in public schools and bolster the University of Wisconsin System. He said he’ll also push to reinstate public workers’ union rights; Walker stripped nearly all public workers of their collective bargaining rights shortly after taking office in 2011.
“People want a real plan to get back to work, not more divisive politics,” Hulsey said in the statement.
Burke has upset some union leaders and Democratic activists because she has not promised to repeal the union measure. She has said she opposes the law and supports collective bargaining, but agrees with parts of the changes requiring public workers to pay more for pension and health care benefits.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the statewide teachers union Wisconsin Education Association Council are still behind Burke, however. Her campaign spokesman, Joe Zepecki, said in an email to The Associated Press on Monday that Hulsey’s announcement won’t change her strategy.
Hulsey, 54, has served two terms in the Assembly. Before joining the Legislature, he served for 14 years on the Dane County Board. He also has worked for the Sierra Club. A fierce partisan, he has established himself as a staunch defender of the environment.
Hulsey, though, also has had some odd run-ins with police.
He pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct citation in 2012 after police accused him of flipping a 9-year-old boy off an inner tube at a Madison beach and taking pictures of the child. Hulsey told police he just walked by the boy and didn’t “touch or molest him.” He also said he needed to point his camera toward the boy in order to get a shot of a sailboat and the sunset. He told the AP in an interview he deleted the photo.
Last year, one of his legislative staffers told police she feared for her safety because he brought a box-cutter to the office and he considered bringing a gun into the Capitol even though he didn’t have a concealed carry license.
Hulsey acknowledged bringing in the box-cutter because he and Assembly Chief Clerk Pat Fuller were going to train the aide in self-defense. After the aide said she didn’t want any such training, he said he was going to train with Fuller so he could survive a box-cutter attack.
Hulsey has also said he asked police if he could carry a musket onto the Assembly floor to call attention to GOP policies he opposes, such as allowing concealed handguns in the Capitol and on the Assembly floor.
Democrats Mark Clear and Lisa Beth Subeck, both Madison city council members, announced last year they’d run against Hulsey in the August primary.
Walker campaign spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said it doesn’t matter who the ultimate Democratic nominee is because voters “want to continue moving Wisconsin forward.”
Associated Press writer Taylor W. Anderson also contributed to this report.