Gov. Scott Walker (R) was repeatedly criticized by Wisconsin's Democratic Party for failing to chastise state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) for his controversial remarks on Kwanzaa.
"Almost no black people today care about Kwanzaa -- just white left-wingers who try to shove this down black people's throats in an effort to divide Americans," Grothman said in a Dec. 28 press release. "Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa -- the supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year’s?"
Stephanie Findley, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Black Caucus, said in a Jan. 2 statement that "Walker should say whether or not he associates himself with and approves of the disgusting comments made by a chief ally such as Sen. Glenn Grothman":
"Grothman, who has minimized the honor due Martin Luther King Jr., says he knows what's best for black people and he directly attacks basic principles of religious liberty in his ill-advised screed. He took a time to celebrate peace and goodwill toward all and warped it into a narrow political appeal to bigots.
"Does Glenn Grothman, in his attacks on African-Americans and religious liberty, speak for Scott Walker's Republican Party? If not, Walker must say so now."
In an interview with 27 News, Walker said Grothman's choice to release a contentious statement on Kwanzaa "just doesn't make any sense" and suggested he shift his focus back to politics.
"I've commented on Kwanzaa in the past and everybody's got a different opinion, but I don't know why someone like that would go out of their way to alienate people over something that some people support," Walker said. "Our standpoint is he needs to be focused on things regarding state business, not issues like that."
State Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate doubled down on criticism of the governor, calling Walker's response "tepid."
“Scott Walker’s tepid response to Glenn Grothman’s outrageous comments is wholly inadequate,” Tate said Friday. “Religious intolerance and blatant bigotry aren’t merely ‘different opinions.’ Anything less than an explicit rejection of these offensive remarks leaves the impression that Scott Walker endorses Glenn Grothman’s brand of extremism.”