Wisconsin Republican state senator Glenn Grothman announced today that he is launching a primary challenge against US Rep. Tom Petri. [Update: On April 11, Petri announced that he would retire]. Grothman has higher national name recognition than your typical state lawmaker because of his record of making outrageous statements and pushing extremist positions. In honor of Grothman’s bid for federal office, we’ve collected ten highlights from his time in the Wisconsin legislature.
1. Claims women earn less because “money is more important for men.”
When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker repealed the states equal pay law, Grothman explained pay disparties by saying, “You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”
2. Advocates for seven-day work weeks.
This year, Grothman has pushed to undo a state law that requires businesses to give their employees at least one day off a week. Grothman also backed efforts to block paid sick leave requirements and require state employees to work on Martin Luther King Day. In 2011, when protesters were occupying the state capitol in protest of Gov. Walkers’ union-busting laws, Grothman called the protesters “a bunch slobs” and “college students having a fun party.”
3. Worries gays are using sex-ed classes for recruitment.
After Wisconsin passed a comprehensive sex education bill in 2010 in an effort to combat a growing rate of STIs among teenagers, Grothman told a reporter that the sex ed classes would be used to recruit kids into homosexuality.
“Did people even know what homosexuality was in high school in 1975?” he asked. “I don't remember any discussion about that at the time. There were a few guys who would make fun of a few effeminate boys, but that's a different thing than homosexuality…Homosexuality was not on anybody's radar. And that's a good thing.”
He added: “Why sit down with 7th graders and say to some you will be heterosexual, some homosexual? Part of that agenda which is left unsaid is that some of those who throw it out as an option would like it if more kids became homosexuals.”
4. Warns of a “war” on white men.
In a 2010 speech to a Tea Party rally warned, “in a lot of ways, I’m afraid our country is in the process of committing suicide” through welfare, diversity, and a “war on men.” In particular, he was upset about businesses making an effort to hire “gals”: “In this country, can we continue to exist if we have a government that is actively discouraging businesses from hiring men? Our country is not going to survive if we continue this war on men.” In a 2009 press release on diversity programs at the University of Wisconsin, he asked, “Does the university hate white men?”
5. Wants to classify single parenthood as child abuse.
In 2012, Grothman introduced a bill that would have required state agencies to list single parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse. He later claimed that single mothers scheme to have children out of wedlock and are “trained” to say that their pregnancies are unintended. He wrote in a newsletter the same year that “the Left and the social welfare establishment want children born out of wedlock because they are far more likely to be dependent on the government.”
6. Thinks low-income people are fleecing taxpayers.
In the same newsletter, Grothman writes that he “frequently” hears store clerks say that “the people on food stamps eat more generously than people not on food stamps…some may say this is harsh, but we cannot continue to have the single mom buy food that the married clerk at the food store could not afford.”
He also reported complaints that “sometimes apartments available with Section 8 vouchers are superior to apartments people pay for themselves as well as boyfriends illegally staying in these apartments.”
7. Champions voter suppression.
Grothman was the chief sponsor of a bill to limit early voting and prohibit weekend voting in Wisconsin, a direct assault on turnout efforts in Democratic-leaning districts. Grothman also proposed a measure to weaken campaign finance reporting requirements and another to make it more difficult for the elderly to seek assistance in voting, and even tried to end same-day voter registration in the state, which in 2012 had the nation’s second-highest turnout rate.
Last year, Grothman co-sponsored a bill that would weaken local courts that had ruled against voter suppression measures. He supported a state voter ID law in 2012, which he admitted he thought would help Romney “in a close race” and implied that voters without ID probably didn’t want to vote anyway. After the election, he claimed that President Obama and Sen. Tammy Baldwin both won their elections due to fraud.
8. Opposes water sanitation.
National Journal reports that “in 2011, Grothman sponsored a bill to do away with municipal water disinfection. For context: in 1993, a Cryptosporidium outbreak in the Milwaukee area's water supply led to the deaths of at least 69 people.”
9. Thinks Planned Parenthood is targeting Asian Americans.
In an interview last year, Grothman called Planned Parenthood “the most racist organization” in the country and suggested that it was “aggressively promoting” sex-selective abortions to Asian Americans. Last year, Grothman backed Planned Parenthood funding cuts that closed four clinics in Wisconsin. This year, he is sponsoring several bills meant to restrict access to abortion.
10. Will not abide by Kwanzaa.
Grothman issued a press release last year declaring that “Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa -- just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans.”