Wisconsin Republican says pro-union groups drowning out constituents

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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Are constituents in Wisconsin’s 18th district angry that State Senator Randy Hopper is firmly in favor of Gov. Walker’s budget proposal? Hopper couldn’t tell you. He’s too busy being bombarded by the efforts of national activists drowning out his constituents’ concerns.

“We have interns and people working all day long trying to answer emails but my email boxes are getting overloaded because of all these massive email things that are going out.,” Hopper told The Daily Caller. “That doesn’t even touch on the number of phone calls we’ve received, and most of those have come from out-of-district and out-of-state. They’re plugging our system so that we can’t reach out to our constituents.”

“They” are a number of groups both in and — mostly — out of Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, two national liberal groups launched both a fundraising drive and a robocall-led recall campaign against Walker and eight Republican senators, respectively. According to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the effort — in conjunction with Democracy for America (“the people powered PAC”) — has raised $410,000 from 18,600 donors.

In the past three weeks, Hopper said he has received over 53,658 emails, almost all concerned with the proposed changes to union’s collective bargaining rights. As of Thursday, Hopper’s small staff still hadn’t gotten through about 6,000 of them. Not that that matters. Most of it is personalized spam.

“Only 9 percent of those emails are from our district,” said Hopper. “We have a staff reading the emails and that’s all they’re doing.”

For those out still unable to master an abacus, that’s about 5,000 emails from people for which the issue of Wisconsin’s collective-bargaining rights (and a recall of Hopper) is of any actual concern. Hopper said 16,000 of those emails are the same form letters. That alone comes out to about a fifth of all those who cast a ballot in District 18’s last senate election.

None of this is to suggest that Hopper came into office with a “mandate” from the people. He sealed his freshman run for office in 2008 after a runoff victory in which he won by just 243 votes. While it was a close election, Hopper told TheDC that there was no confusion when residents in the union-heavy district voted him into office.

“Everyone around here knows the district I’m in —  I have a lot of correction facilities, I have universities and two tech schools.” said Hopper.

In Wisconsin, launching an actual recall election requires a petition with signatures from 25 percent of electorate that voted in the last governor’s election. For District 18 residents unhappy with Hopper, that means a little more than 15,000 signatures need to be gathered.

Hopper said he was confident that voters in the 18th district would “see this recall as an effort to circumvent the wishes of the [Wisconsin] tax payers who just this last November” voted a Republican Governor into office.

“Throughout the state [Republican officials] were an overwhelming success,” said Hopper. “I don’t know why this is a surprise to anyone that this is exactly what we’re doing.”

Regardless of his political position, Hopper’s having difficulty shouting over outsider activists, and it’s affecting the work in and around his district.

“We’re working around the clock to get through the message,” said Hopper. “When I’m not doing my job, which part of it is reaching out to constituents, I’m calling people.”

Perhaps he should give Scott Dillman a call.

On Saturday, the Winnebago County Democratic Party will kick off its effort to recall Hopper. The petition was begun by District 18 resident Scott Dillman, who had very specific reasons for launching the drive against Hopper, accord to WFRV News.

Dillman said he wants to know why the state senate can’t just take out the part about collective bargaining rights and vote on it later. He’s a little peeved and would like to discuss the issue with his senator. There’s only one problem, though. Hopper hasn’t responded to Dillman’s email. The former corrections officer is also having trouble getting through by phone.

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