Let me start off this post by stating up front I was very supportive of Brett Hulsey when he first ran for state assembly.
In February 2011 I even called the freshman state representative “my type of Democrat” when he made news by moving front and center to the podium following a press availability by Governor Walker. The statement from Walker regarded why he wanted to destroy collective bargaining. Hulsey then marched to the podium in front of the assembled reporters and called the governor a dictator, not a leader, and said the budget bill was about union busting, and not about balancing the budget. It was a scene straight out of the movies, and I was mighty proud of Hulsey in those most difficult weeks for our state.
But in the past year there has been one story after the other that has alerted everyone to the fact that Hulsey has changed, and seems to have lost the touch that a politician needs in order to be effective. The latest stupefying episodes were reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
This started out being a post on Hulsey’s unusual use of campaign funds to buy an old convertible and to register for a triathlon. But by the end of two chats on Monday, the Madison lawmaker was openly contemplating a run for governor after dismissing the leading Democrat eyeing a bid.
“I was at an event with Mary Burke the other day,” said Hulsey, a Democrat. “She’s got the charisma of a turnip.”
There is no secret to the fact that politicians need to do things that make them special and unique to the voters, and add some sizzle to the political discussions that dominate Madison. But when I read, and then saw photos of Hulsey wearing a speedo style swimsuit in a triathlon which was more than 30 miles from his district I had to wonder if I was the only one thinking about Happy Days when Fonzie ‘jumped the shark’.
There comes a time when, as in the case of the ABC television show, there is no more chance at re-gaining credibility or finding a way to recover from really awful blunders, actions, and deeds. That is now the place that Hulsey finds himself.
And there is no one for Hulsey to blame except himself.
I know that Hulsey thinks it is the Democrats who are out to paint him in negative ways, and tarnish his image. But there is no way to make up the bat-crap crazy behavior that has surrounded Hulsey as of late, and no one to blame other than who the representative sees in the mirror each morning.
I am mindful that Hulsey had so much potential, and I think truly God-given talents when he was first sworn into office. He was bright, cared about the environment, and seemed like a fighter who was grounded and ready to make a mark on public policy. Just the type of person the Democrats needed. But then something happened to Hulsey that was both alarming to read about over time in the press, but also sad to witness. It all has been rather embarrassing and somewhat painful to watch play out.
Brett Hulsey’s political career is over, and that is not something anyone can take glee about regardless of how we identify ourselves on the partisan divide. I am trusting that there are those who know Hulsey as a close friend, and can pull him back from the path he has willingly taken.
Let us again have only Senator Glenn Grothman making news that leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief.