Editor’s note, Oct. 29: Kyle Wood has recanted his claim that formed the basis for this article, originally titled “Wisconsin GOP campaign worker hospitalized after apparent gay-bashing assault.” In a statement to police, he admitted that he had faked the bias attack against himself.
MADISON, Wisc. — A bitter and contentious Wisconsin congressional race saw a new level of antagonism Wednesday morning when an openly gay Republican campaign worker became the victim of an apparent hate crime.
Kyle Wood, a full-time volunteer working for GOP House candidate Chad Lee, was hospitalized for injuries suffered during what he said was an assault at his home.
Wood told The Daily Caller that vandalism preceding the assault, along with his attacker’s statements during the incident, suggested his sexual orientation and his politics each played a role.
“I was getting ready for work and there was a knock at the door,” Wood emailed The Daily Caller late Wednesday. “I opened it, and a guy wrapped a ligature around my neck, slammed my head into the doorway, and smashed my face into a mirror, telling me ‘You should have kept your [f*******] mouth shut.’”
“He then kidney-punched me, while at the same time saying I was ‘warned,’ and continued to beat me,” he added.
Wood said his attacker’s reference to a warning likely pointed to graffiti he found painted on his car last week. The vandalism included the phrases “house trained republican faggot,” “traitor,” and “ur like a jew 4 hitler.”
Those slurs, he explained, were references to him being a gay Republican working to help Lee, a straight GOP candidate, defeat the openly gay Democrat Mark Pocan.
After he discovered the graffiti, Wood wrote an open letter on Facebook to the unknown vandal. “If you understand either freedom or me at all,” he wrote, “you would that this will only make me work harder. … You can think whatever you like about me, but I will not be bullied into voting for a gay man simply because I am gay.”
Wood was unable to move the right side of his body immediately following Wednesday morning’s assault. He was transported by ambulance to Meriter Hospital in Madison. His eyes were swollen shut by the beating, and he suffered a concussion along with neck and head lacerations.
The gay conservative group GOProud’s co-founder, Jimmy LaSalvia, told TheDC that Wood’s assault indicates “hate and vitriol directed towards a gay conservative from gay liberals.” (RELATED OPINION: Why gay Americans, and those who care about gay Americans, should vote for Mitt Romney)
A spokesperson for Chad Lee told TheDC, “We condemn this attack on a member of our team in the strongest terms.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Kyle in his recovery from this horrific incident, and we hope that the perpetrators responsible are brought to justice immediately.”
Lee and Pocan are squaring off to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay Democrat who left the House of Representatives to run for retiring Democrat Herb Kohl’s U.S. Senate seat. Baldwin’s opponent is the former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Both the Pocan and Baldwin campaigns failed to respond to repeated requests for comment. The Human Rights Campaign, a leading liberal gay rights organization, also did not respond to TheDC’s request.
“I will not be bullied, intimidated or threatened into abandoning my moral values,” Wood told TheDC late Wednesday.
The Madison, Wisc. Police Department has assigned a case number to the assault, and is investigating.