It will be interesting to see how seriously the major media outlets in Wisconsin treat State Representative Brett Hulsey's candidacy for Governor. Yesterday's announcement that he is going to challenge Mary Burke for the Democratic nomination came out of nowhere--which is pretty much par for the course when dealing with Hulsey.
To call Hulsey's behavior "erratic" is to be kind. This is a man who once took it upon himself to throw then-Mayor Paul Soglin's grandson in a Madison lake because he was splashing some girls at the beach. This is a guy who once told the Dane County Board that he lived in fear of the Sheriff's Deputies union rigging his car with a bomb set to go off when he started the vehicle. This is a politician who once commandeered the podium in front of all the cameras at a press conference for Governor Scott Walker to condemn Act Ten. This is a man who once threatened to bring his muzzleloader rifle to the floor of the Assembly and shoot it at then-Majority Leader Bill Kramer's head (I bet Republican party leaders now wish he had actually done that). And he is the guy who brought a boxcutter to the Capitol so that he "teach" his twenty-something female aid the art of self-defense.
Hulsey is also a conspiracy theorist. He accused Mayor Soglin of "political bullying" by charging him with disorderly conduct in what he calls the "beach kerfuffle". He thought the deputies were trying to kill him because of a contract dispute with the county. And he accuses Governor Walker of trying to "destroy his political career" by releasing the police report detailing the boxcutter incident and how it drove his aide to quit her job (even though the report was released following a Freedom of Information Act filing).
But Hulsey isn't your run of the mill political crackpot that can be ignored--like the two other Democrats already challenging Mary Burke, can you name them? He actually holds elected office. The good people of Madison have elected him to the Assembly twice--after putting him on the Dane County Board for 7-terms. Further complicating things, Hulsey self-admits to having psychological problems. He claims to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to physical and emotional abuse by his father while he was a child--and that is why he acts the way he acts.
It will be interesting to see if the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association holds a debate featuring Burke and Hulsey before the primary--as they have in the past when there are two "viable" candidates in the race. Will the media outlets and wispolitics.com assign reporters to follow Hulsey around and blog about his every campaign speech and appearance. And how will the inevitable bizarre statements and actions be treated in those stories? Will they be prefaced by "Representative Brett Hulsey--who suffers from PTSD--today promised to throw Governor Scott Walker in prison for life for treason if elected to fill that same position"? And does Mary Burke actually answer the accusations that she is not "liberal enough" to be the Democratic nominee?
Brett Hulsey's entry into the race for Governor may not make it more competitive or even more interesting. But it will definitely be more awkward.