Bob Prailes announced last week that he was running as a Democrat to take on Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, one of the state’s most powerful Republicans.
Prailes, a lifelong resident of Burlington and a carpenter who has been active in his community for years, started gathering signatures and quickly raised $30,000 for the Assembly race.
But early Friday, he unexpectedly pulled the plug on his campaign. And his reason for doing so had nothing to do with politics.
He said he and his family were being verbally attacked.
“I had people that were approaching us when we were together as a family, swearing at us, commenting to my wife,” Prailes said in an interview. “I don’t want to say too much. I just think that people made very personal and ugly attacks towards me and my family either through walking up to me or yelling at me or through social media.
“It got to the point where my family and I decided we didn’t want to be part of something like that,” he said.
“I don’t blame any of that on Robin,” Prailes added. “I don’t think Robin had anything to do with that. I just blame it on today’s politics.”
He said Vos had been “gracious” and tried to gain his support.
In a post Friday on his campaign website, Prailes said he “realized that I am not the type of person who thrives in this type of situation, and that I had not adequately prepared my family for the consequences that would arise from my candidacy.”
He added: “I started to feel like we were watching everything that we care about as a family and a community slip away, and I wasn’t going to be able to be myself on the campaign trail knowing that my family’s health and happiness could be jeopardized. It is for these reasons that I feel it is the best course of action for my family for me to step aside today, before things get worse.”
Apparently, anger is rising in the community and the state.
In a lengthy Facebook post Friday, Vos did not address Prailes’ pulling out of the race, but he reflected on the present political climate, which has seen tempers flare especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and referenced a lawsuit he and other GOP leaders filed over the governor’s restrictions on the public.
“I understand people are stressed because of the virus and not sure exactly how to react,” Vos wrote. “Sending someone dog poop in the mail (as was done to me yesterday) is pretty sad.
“For those on the right — know I and my fellow GOP legislators are doing everything we can to prepare for the next phase after the lawsuit (which we will hopefully win). Please don’t turn your anger at the very people who are your allies in getting our state working again.
“For those on the left — no one in the GOP wants to kill anyone and we worry about friends, family and co workers who could succumb to the virus. Yelling at people doesn’t win an argument. Neither does name calling.
“We can respectfully disagree. We can argue. We can even yell on occasion. But if yelling, swearing, accusing others is your go to response, you need to seriously think about your anger and how to resolve that issue. Can we just get back to debating the issues civilly and stop the name calling?
“That’s the political system I want to be a part of,” Vos wrote.
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