MADISON, Wis. (AP) – State Rep. Brett Hulsey, a longshot Democratic candidate for governor, submitted more than the 2,000 signatures required to get on the ballot to challenge former state Commerce Secretary Mary Burke.
Monday was the deadline for Hulsey and other candidates running for office to submit the required signatures and other paperwork with the state Government Accountability Board. The board will review the signatures, and challenges, and then determine at its June 10 meeting who will be on the Aug. 12 primary ballot. The general election is Nov. 4.
Other statewide races this year are for treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general – the latter being open because incumbent J.B. Van Hollen is retiring. All 99 seats in the Assembly and 17 in the Senate are also to be decided, as are the state’s eight congressional seats.
Hulsey, who has been shunned by many Democrats and ridiculed for his sometimes outlandish actions, said he personally gathered most of his petition signatures, rather than relying on campaign volunteers like most candidates.
The number of signatures required to get on the ballot varies depending on the office sought. Candidates for governor and statewide office had to turn in at least 2,000 and no more than 4,000.
Hulsey said he had about 2,300 signatures but was expecting many to be challenged by Burke’s “political hitmen.”
“You go in with what you got and do the best you can,” Hulsey said. “I’m where I am.”
Burke’s campaign spokesman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker turned in the 4,000 signature maximum. Burke submitted 3,778 signatures.
A third lesser known Democrat, Marcia Mercedes Perkins, also filed signatures to run for governor Monday but the elections board did not immediately have a total count. Two other candidates, Libertarian Robert Burke and Dennis Fehr of the Peoples Party, also submitted signatures.
Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, had expected to be unchallenged for the Democratic Party nomination until Hulsey decided to take her on. Burke has the backing of the party, a number of endorsements from prominent interest groups, unions and others, and she has been actively fundraising for the race, including spending $400,000 of her own money.
After two years in the Assembly, Hulsey decided against seeking re-election this year as other Democrats emerged to challenge him. Hulsey’s four-year tenure has been marked by sometimes bizarre behavior.
Hulsey contemplated bringing a musket onto the Assembly floor to call attention to GOP policies, such as legalizing carrying concealed weapons, which 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.
Hulsey has been generating publicity for his outsider governor’s race campaign through stunts including promising, then backing out, of handing out homemade white Ku Klux Klan hoods before the Wisconsin Republican Party convention.
Hulsey was not invited to speak at this weekend’s Wisconsin Democratic Party convention, where Burke is the headliner. Hulsey said he still plans to attend and hand out copies of his speech to attendees.
In other races:
– State Sen. John Lehman, of Racine, and little known Democratic challenger Mary Jo Walters submitted signatures to run for lieutenant governor. No Republican is challenging incumbent Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Libertarian Joseph Brost also filed.
– Three Democrats, one Republican and one Libertarian filed for attorney general. The Democrats are state Rep. Jon Richards of Milwaukee, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, and Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ. Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel is the lone Republican running and Thomas A. Nelson Sr. registered as a Libertarian.