Jeff Wood, a representative in the Wisconsin legislature representing Eau Claire in the Chippewa Valley, has filed to run for re-election as an Independent. Notably, Wood was endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus in 2006.
Wood told The Chicago Tribune that the state and national GOP no longer believe in small government and fiscal responsibility. He also said that the establishment Republican leadership felt he was too independent and banished him to a do-nothing committee.
According to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the last time the Wisconsin legislature had a member elected from a third party was the 1947 session, when there was one Progressive in the Senate.
Wood has broken with Republican ranks on issues such as the state budget (he opposed the fiscally irresponsible budget) and emergency contraception for victims of sexual assault (he supports it). He said the party has lost its way by going into Iraq with no clear mission, suspending habeas corpus and securing driver’s licenses in a way that he says creates a national ID card.
“I couldn’t put an ‘R’ in front of my name and become the standard bearer for what I think is a party that really lost its way,” he said. He said he had sometimes felt an outcast in his party. “How can I stay in a party where it’s not OK to vote your conscience?” he said.
He faces Libertarian Andrew McKenzie of Chippewa Falls in the Nov. 4 election. The GOP may field a write-in candidate.
If Democrats pick up two seats and Wood is elected as an independent, that would mean a 49-49-1 split, with Wood as the swing vote. Democrats need three more seats.
Let’s hope it happens. Wood is likely the second most libertarian-leaning member of the legislature, after the RLC-endorsed Frank Lasee.
Memo to the Republican Party establishment: Stick to the platform!
UPDATE: The Wisconsin GOP is challenging the validity of Wood’s signatures. READ MORE.