WAUSAU, Wis. – “He is raping our educational system in this state,” shouted an exercised Phil Swanhorst in early 2012.
The Eau Claire transit bus driver and Amalgamated Transit Union local president from Chippewa Falls was speaking at a pro-union, anti-Scott Walker rally in Wausau.
Now, more than two years later, Swanhorst’s comparison between Gov. Walker’s budget reforms and rape bears a resemblance to controversial comments made by Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. On September 3rd, Wasserman Schultz speaking in Milwaukee declared:
“Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand. I know that is stark. I know that is direct. I know that is reality.”
Wisconsin Democrats quickly ran to distance themselves in various ways from the remarks. The DNC chairwoman later offered something of an apology for her choice of words. But the hyperbole of her remarks comparing a policy decision to violence against women – something Swanhorst did as well – nevertheless frustrated pragmatic Democrats.
Swanhorst, a Democrat, is running for state Senate now in the 23rd District, which is currently held by state Sen. Terry Moulton, a Republican. Despite the similarities between Swanhorst’s barely controlled rant and Dwight Schrute’s memorable speech to fellow salesmen in The Office, Democrats have not been shy about backing the emotional candidate.
“He knows what public transportation means to their families and their future,” convicted former state senator-turned-lobbyist Gary Goyke (D) said of Swanhorst in an endorsement of him.
Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D) co-hosted a fundraiser for Swanhorst in Milwaukee in August, and the candidate proudly posts pictures of himself with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and Vice President Joe Biden. Biden recently embroiled himself in controversy at a Democratic women’s event in D.C. for praising an ex-U.S. Senator who resigned from office over allegations of sexual harassment.
In an interview with WisconsinEye, Swanhorst said that if elected he would not rule out pushing for tax hikes to fund transportation spending. “I would not take any raising of taxes off the table,” he explained.
UPDATE: The YouTube video used in this report has been deleted by the user.
Authored by Brian Sikma
Published with permission