A Democratic congressional candidate is using her Republican opponent’s wife’s career to argue he is too privileged to understand the economic struggles his northeastern Wisconsin district faces.
State Rep. Amanda Stuck of Appleton, who is running against Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher in the 8th District, said Anne Gallagher’s acting career in New York is evidence her husband is not qualified to represent the largely blue-collar district — a claim Gallagher called an “attack” on his family to “score political points.”
“I don’t come from wealth and privilege like Mike Gallagher does. I didn’t marry a Broadway star like Mike Gallagher did. I married a sheet metal journeyman. We know what it’s like to work multiple jobs to stay ahead,” Stuck said in a taped video for WisconsinVote.org. “For most of us, Broadway is a street in Green Bay. It isn’t a place in Manhattan, like Mike Gallagher knows.”
In the video, Stuck tells the story of a constituent of the district who told her Gallagher did not respond to concerns he had about the Affordable Care Act disappearing while his wife had breast cancer.
“Mike Gallagher is able to vote against his constituents because he doesn’t understand what they go through,” Stuck said before making the comments about Gallagher’s upbringing in California and about his wife Anne’s theater career in Manhattan. She contrasts Gallagher’s life experience with her own: parents who waited on tables and bagged groceries.
“He doesn’t know what it’s like to be a family right here in northeast Wisconsin making the tough decisions between putting their last few dollars in their gas tank or buying some food to eat for the week,” Stuck said.
Anne Gallagher, who has performed in about three dozen stage productions, movies and TV shows, said Stuck was seeking to shame her for her career.
“Amanda Stuck’s attempts to shame me for pursuing my career in theatre is repugnant,” she said in a statement. “I had amazing teachers at Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay and worked my tail off to establish a career for myself in Manhattan.”
“Any success I had was a result of hard work and determination,” she said. “I want my daughter Grace to grow up in a community where women feel empowered to follow their dreams, whether that takes them to Marinette, Milwaukee, or Manhattan.”
In an interview, Stuck defended her comments and said she was not trying to attack Gallagher’s wife.
“It’s an absolute joke that Mike Gallagher would accuse the single mom who worked two and three jobs at a time to put herself through school of attacking a woman’s career,” Stuck said.
Stuck said she made the comparison to show “what does he really know about someone like my family.”
“Congress is full of people like Mike Gallagher who come from privilege,” Stuck said. “It’s not full of people who are from Wisconsin and married to sheet metal journeymen. That’s the entire problem with Congress … those people don’t truly understand the problems that working families face here.”
Gallagher pushed back against Stuck’s characterization of his background during a debate on Monday.
“She’s actually right. I was privileged to grow up in northeast Wisconsin in a family that taught me we are all privileged to be Americans,” Gallagher said. “I had the privilege of serving the country I love in the United States Marine Corps. And the privilege of serving alongside true heroes.”
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