A Democratic state representative whose reputation for bizarre antics includes being cited for flipping a child off an inner tube is trying to one-up a group of Wisconsin Republicans pushing a secession-related measure at their state convention.
Brett Hulsey, a Democratic candidate for Wisconsin governor, is planning a string of stunts on the outskirts of the GOP convention, which starts Friday. He plans to hand out white Ku Klux Klan-style hoods at the event, to highlight what he claims are racist policies.
Plus he reportedly wants to hold a rally outside a Gov. Scott Walker speech with people dressed as Confederate soldiers.
Hulsey displayed his white hoods in the state Capitol press room on Thursday, saying he made them with his daughter's sewing machine using curtain material he purchased for $1.
"It's a Wisconsin Republican Party hat," Hulsey said. "And people can interpret it any way they want."
Husley claims to be protesting a string of state Republican policies and votes. The hoods are meant to protest policies like one requiring photo ID to vote -- though that law was just struck down in federal court on Tuesday -- and one making it more difficult to force schools to remove American Indian mascots.
Plus he's protesting a resolution expected to come up for a vote at the convention that would underscore Wisconsin's right to secede in extreme circumstances. Party leaders, though, don't expect it to pass, and Walker has distanced himself from it.
Hulsey, a two-term state representative, is running a long-shot campaign for the Democratic nomination against the better-funded and more broadly supported candidate Mary Burke. She is a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive. Her campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki called Hulsey's latest stunt "completely unacceptable and totally inappropriate."
Hulsey has a history of outlandish behavior.
Hulsey contemplated bringing a musket onto the Assembly floor to call attention to GOP policies, like legalizing carrying concealed weapons, that he opposed. Last year, one of his legislative staffers told police she feared for her safety because he brought a box-cutter to the office.
In 2012, Hulsey pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct citation 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.
Democrats and Republicans alike were quick to distance themselves from Hulsey's latest antics.
"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 state Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate.
Wisconsin Republican Party executive director Joe Fadness called Hulsey's plan to hand out the hoods a "reprehensible, vile stunt" that should outrage everyone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.