An Anti-Kwanzaa, Anti-Water Sanitation Lawmaker in Wisconsin Is Running for Congress

He could be a serious challenger.

A vanity license plate is seen on a car beonging to republican Wisconsin State Senator Glenn Grothman outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol on March 4, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. (National Journal)

Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman has the most recognizable car at the state Capitol. That's because of his vanity plates: "TAX CUTR."

Now, Grothman wants to take those plates national. He announced his plans to run a primary campaign against Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., in the state's 6th Congressional District, as reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

On Thursday, Grothman said he would conduct an issue-oriented campaign. He said he would campaign against the Affordable Care Act, and said Petri, who voted against the legislation, "implied he didn't mind a bigger government role in health care."

Petri, who has represented his conservative district since 1979, is mild but well-liked. He's brought home federal funds for roads and bridges, and advocated for local businesses. In the two Republican primaries he's faced in his tenure, he's won both with at least 82 percent of the vote. He also has a $1 million war chest.

But Grothman is not a joke candidate, nor should Petri's campaign treat him as such. Petri, who is 73, hails from the golden age of moderate conservatism — a brand that's become increasingly passé in the modern GOP.

Meanwhile, in his 21 years in the state Legislature, Grothman has never shied from denouncing government overreach and a perceived liberal indoctrination through institutions like the University of Wisconsin and public-employee unions.

"I think the colleges of education are of a leftist bent," he told Isthmus in 2011. "I think the teachers union is of a leftist bent, and I think to a certain extent their ideas are pushed on the teachers [and later students]. And it's what's taught in the culture — movies, TV."

For Grothman, liberalism — or rather, leftism — has pervaded all areas of modern culture. In the past, Grothman has decried Kwanzaa, calling the holiday a liberal scheme. "Of course, almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa — just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans," Grothman wrote in 2012.

He's also voiced his objection to equal-pay laws, saying pay discrimination against women isn't a real problem. His justification? "You could argue that money is more important for men," he told the Daily Beast. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true."

And in 2011, Grothman sponsored a bill to do away with municipal water disinfection. For context: in 1993, a Cryptosporidium outbreak in the Milwaukee area's water supply led to the deaths of at least 69 people.

Still, Grothman has rock-solid conservative credentials within the state, taking on the role of hype man for Gov. Scott Walker's strict voter-ID law. In an interview with MSNBC last fall, Grothman said voters who struggle with the state's new voter-ID laws probably didn't care about voting.

"Between [early voting], mail absentee, and voting the day of election, you know, I mean anybody who can't vote with all those options, they've really got a problem," Grothman told MSNBC. "I really don't think they care that much about voting in the first place, right?"

Grothman is no stranger to mudslinging politics. So Petri better watch out — or at least start courting Wisconsin's Kwanzaa celebrants.