Campaigning around his district on Saturday, Wisconsin state Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) dismissed the woman who is trying to unseat him in the upcoming June 5 recall election.

In comments to the Wisconsin State Journal, Fitzgerald argued that his opposition wasn't really being driven by his challenger, Lori Compas, but by unions, protest groups and her husband. From the paper's report:

For the record, Fitzgerald said he doesn't buy Compas' Pollyanna image. He knows some people are painting the race as a David-vs.-Goliath contest. But Fitzgerald said he thinks her husband is one of the main forces behind her campaign, as well as unions and protest groups.

"I don't for one minute believe she is the organizing force behind this whole thing," he said.

While Wisconsin Republicans have been arguing for months that unions exert undue influence in the political process in the state, Compas was reportedly "audibly stunned" when told of the state leader's remarks about her husband.

"That is pretty insulting, but it does seem in keeping with his general views on women," she told the paper. "He doesn't seem to have a lot of respect for them. That's OK; he can keep underestimating me."

On Sunday, the Wisconsin Democratic Party held a press call with Compas on Fitzgerald's remarks.

Compas said she wanted to remind Fitzgerald that women are "educating ourselves about political issues, forming our own opinions and acting on our convictions."

"That should go without saying in the year 2012, but apparently he still does not fully understand the important role that women play in our society," she added.

Compas is a freelance photographer and writer. Her husband is a geography professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and they have two children.

Compas -- not her husband -- has been a leading voice in the movement to oust Fitzgerald from office, even before there was officially a recall election. Fitzgerald, as the Republican leader of the Senate, has been one of Gov. Scott Walker's (R) key allies in pushing his agenda, including the measure that stripped most collective bargaining rights from public employees last year.

While some party activists were reluctant to target Fitzgerald for recall, Compas stepped up and led the recall campaign. Last year, she -- again, not her husband -- stood up and confronted him over accusations he was making about the recall process during one of his town hall meetings.

Compas is still a long-shot to defeat Fitzgerald, with a recent poll showing her about 14 points behind. Nevertheless, as the Wisconsin State Journal notes, Compas "has become a legitimate thorn in Fitzgerald's side" in the meantime. Fitzgerald did not return a request for comment.

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