“Republicans say they want safety,” Laura Gapske, who’s running in Wisconsin’s 73rd District, told UpNorthNews. “Which is ironic because they are creating unsafe spaces.”
Laura Gapske has lived in Superior, Wisconsin, for almost her entire life. She moved there with her mom when she was just five years old, finding refuge after fleeing a domestic violence situation. Now, Gapske is once again fearing for her own safety.
Last Friday, Gapske’s campaign was preparing to host a comedy show fundraiser at a local business in Siren, Wisconsin. That’s when the threats started. Gapske says the business owner received more than 30 threats “just because she was paid to host my event.”
“The political climate has become intoxicated with hatred. Of fear. Of not knowing much about the other side,” Gapske explained in an emotional conversation with UpNorthNews.
“I do believe in community. I do believe in accepting differences. I don’t think these people know me. Actually, I know they don’t. And that’s the scary part.”
In order to make sure her Friday fundraiser was safe, Gapske had to call upon Siren’s only on-duty police officer. That posed another problem.
“When we have the town’s one police officer on duty, if he gets a call for any other emergency, that then pulls from the other jurisdictions that are already running short as well,” she explained.
Currently, the entire country is facing a law enforcement officer shortage, and Wisconsin is no exception.
“When people that say they support law and order and then do things that directly pull their time and their resources from these situations, it is not respectful of law enforcement,” she added, calling out the hypocrisy of the often right wing-led “Blue Lives Matter” movement.
Not only has Gapske had to rely on law enforcement to secure her campaign event, but she’s had to file several police reports against Republicans who’ve repeatedly harassed her, some even going so far as to share her personal cell phone number publicly, printing it on 70,000 mailers.
So what has her opponent been doing to stop this? Not much, as it turns out. Instead, she seems to be fueling it.
“Many of my followers have been sending me things she is saying or doing to foster hate, fearmongering, and division. That’s feeding into these intimidation tactics, these smear campaigns,” Gapske said.
“We, a lot of times, all have the same goals,” she continued. “We all want better schools. We all want to pay less for taxes. We all want things to be fair, and we all want to live the best lives that we can.”
How You Can Help
In a world where politics has become so divisive and vitriolic, we couldn’t leave without asking Gapske what we can do.
“Stand up to the bullying instead of feeding into it,” she answered immediately. “Campaigning is hard. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy. But when I get a phone call from people who’ve gotten these ads or these mailers, and they say, ‘I don’t stand for this. This is not what I want in our community.’ That goes a long way.”
“The good thing is– I’ve been a woman that since childhood has experienced abusive environments and been treated that way, and it doesn’t scare me down. I will continue to fight harder when things like this happen.”
Click here and scroll to the bottom to send Gapske an encouraging message as she enters the final month of her campaign.
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UpNorthNews reached out to Gapske’s 73rd District opponent Angie Sapik to comment on these circumstances. We did not hear back.