Republican state Rep. Leah Vukmir, D-Wauwatosa, is currently running for the 5th District state senate seat against incumbent Democrat Sen. Jim Sullivan. All indications point to this being the highest profile race for the state legislature this year.
Republicans have invested large amounts of support in Vukmir because they view this race as their key to taking back control of the Senate. But did they invest in a candidate who is too extreme for this moderate/conservative-leaning district?
Leaked e-mails from Vukmir’s office provide many examples of extremism that is of particular interest to the LGBT community. For instance, Julaine Appling, the rabidly anti-gay leader of the Wisconsin Family Council, wrote to Vukmir on Jan. 12 to say she was “checking in” with Vukmir about testimony that her organization presented on a bullying provision in Senate Bill 154 (the education omnibus bill). Appling claimed the legislation’s language was “dangerous.” She maintained the bill was being “promoted by the pro-gay group GLSEN and others.”
Appling offered to help Vukmir with some “alternative language” for the legislation. Vukmir responded by saying she was “open to your suggestions.” A few months after this e-mail exchange, and only one day before the National Day of Silence, the bullying legislation passed without Vukmir’s support. She repeatedly voted against it both in the education committee and on the Assembly floor.
This example of Vukmir’s chummy relationship with far-right leaders is reflected throughout her official e-mail record. There are frequent exchanges between her office and anti-LGBT organizations, including:
Family Research Council (FRC): Since the early 1990s, this organization has emerged as the leading conservative organization championing so-called “traditional family values.” The group was founded by the notoriously anti-gay Dr. James Dobson. FRC is so far to the right that it even attacked President George Bush for his “implicit endorsement of the homosexual political agenda.” FRC has called for boycotts of Disney because of the company’s “gay-friendly” policies. FRC officials often refer to an imagined agenda to “indoctrinate” children to the “homosexual lifestyle.”
National Prayer Network (NPW): This self-described “ministry” is headed by the Rev. Ted Pike. Its Web site – “truthtellers.org” – consists of some of the most over-the-top anti-gay rhetoric imaginable. NPW warns of the “dangers of hate laws” and admonishes its followers to help “stop the pedophile-protecting Hate Bill.” It also addresses what it calls “sodomite adoption” as being “disastrous for kids.” The group’s favorite legislative targets include the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Vukmir’s close affiliation with extremist groups should be alarming not only to members of the LGBT community but to 5th District residents in general. She’s a poor fit for moderate and fair-minded voters.