To add to the GOP’s headaches in Wisconsin, where polls show the president dominating the female vote, two Republican candidates in state legislative races could make the party appear insensitive to the issue of violence against women.
One of them, David VanderLeest, is running a hopeless campaign for Assembly in a solidly Democratic district in Green Bay. VanderLeest gained notoriety last year when his long record of domestic disputes and financial troubles became public in his unsuccessful bid to oust state Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, in a recall election.
Although VanderLeest has been arrested at least twice on charges of battery against his ex-wife, the charges were eventually dismissed in both instances, although VanderLeest pled no contest to disorderly conduct in one of them.
Bill Feehan, a La Crosse businessman and member of the County Board there, was arrested in 2000 after allegedly choking his girlfriend at the time. Similar to VanderLeest, Feehan pled guilty to disorderly conduct in exchange for prosecutors dropping a battery charge.
"This absolutely goes to show his lack of character and respect for women," says Brad Wojciechowski, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee.
The GOP appears to fully support Feehan, and the candidate himself described comments about his criminal record as a “low blow by the Democrat Party” in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
In reality,the low blows were thrown by the GOP candidates.