The Person behind the Party – Part One

by | Jun 25, 2024 | Politics | 0 comments

I wanted to shed some light on the person behind the party and how I met Duane Wilson. I also want to share a perspective shifting idea that I believe we need to address. We need to bridge the divisiveness of the political landscape in the US right now. Read through to the last few paragraphs to better understand what I’m talking about.

A clown dressed in red white and blue stars and stripes from head to toe.  He has a big red bow tie, red hair, a bright red nose and smile.  In his left hand he's holding a small american flag and his right hand is waving at someone outside of the frame.  
An American Clown.

I got a knock at my door today.

Well, actually it was a ring of the doorbell, but still.  I could tell on the doorbell camera that it was something political.  A man wearing bright red and navy shorts, held a dredded clip board and stood waiting for me to open the door. When I did open the door I saw the red hat was a “Trump 2024” hat.   Most of my good friends know that Trump is not my favorite person. Maybe some day I’ll get into the laundry list of nauseating issues I have with him or the laundry list I have with Biden. But, to say it gently I was immediately feeling uncomfortable around this person.

Who was it?

The gentleman smiled brightly (a genuine smile) and introduced himself as Duane Wilson, running for District Assembly 57.  He handed me a little post card that said “Vote August 13th Republican Primary.”  And then gave a brief, bulletpointed overview of his campaign pillars.  

“I wanted to get out into the community and introduce myself, remind you of the upcoming primary, and see if you would be willing to vote for me.” He said (maybe not precisely verbatim, but to the best of my memory.)

I tried my best not to let my anger show at his first bullet point.   100% Pro-life, no exceptions.  “Well, I’m not sure I could do that.  As a woman, with a teenage daughter, that no exceptions thing… that’s a little hard to swallow.”

Duane Wilson was gracious.

“Thank you for that,” he said. 

Surprised I looked up at him.  He was being genuine.  For the best I could tell.  “I want to hear what the people I will represent have to say.”

I must have taken a step back at this point, but I know I smiled. His last bullet point on his card was “Clean up the elections & restore election integrity.”  

“I’d really like for you to try to get money out of politics.” I said, hoping to at least give him something he could work. I was sure this was a topic he wouldn’t get fed to the wolves on with his party.

He shook his head, “It’s BAD.” Duane said. 

“I know,” I responded. “I don’t understand why these people aren’t representing US.  That’s their job.” 

One Person Can make a difference

“I don’t know how much I’ll be able to affect, because I’m just a small guy. No one is going to leave a statue for me anywhere. But I believe that we have to do better for our constituents and that’s why I’m out canvasing.” Mr. Wilson also mentioned that he enjoyed having conversations with people that could disagree with him.

We had a pleasant conversation where Duane told me that he was running against someone who was put in our district and has been an incumbent for 17 years. (As of today I haven’t even looked into who ever that is.)  He wanted to run because he felt that 17 years was too long. I agree – I am a huge supporter of term limits.

I shared that I felt that the majority of American’s aren’t happy with these fights against women or LGBTQ rights.  And that I felt that the majority of people who are voting for candidates don’t really feel affected by those issues.   I felt that I wanted someone to do something about the issues affecting my family and my kid’s friends. I wanted to know where my mortgage payment was coming from. I stressed that I wanted someone to represent us and to TRY to make a difference.

Duane Wilson was kind and considerate and listened to me. We shook hands before he left, and I told him how much I appreciated him coming to my door to talk to me. It truly meant a lot even if we didn’t agree on the same things.  He thanked me for my time. So, I decided to investigate him and give him a chance, to find out about the man behind the party.

I really wanted to like him.

Duane Wilson seemed like a real live person that I could find common ground with.  I was ready to up and leave my house and go on a walk with him to help canvas.  I actually still think that I may reach out and see if I can work with him or sit down and ask some tough questions.  I’m all about conversations that are handled with dignity. Conversations and talking points that aren’t a smear campaign against other candidates and he seemed respectful enough.

Duane Wilson’s website.

Ugghh…  His contact information was on the card, along with his campaign website.  I was hoping he’d be a little more moderate. I had hoped that maybe I could talk with him about his ideas around women’s rights. Unfortunately, his website was just too far right for me.

As I scrolled down, I liked the values that were there, “Trust” – “Honesty” – “Transparency.”

“Awesome! Those are values I stand behind.”

And then came the boxes.  

About a half scroll down his home page are a series of 8 boxes that summarize his campaign into brief talking points.

His first box said, “I stand with Donald Trump on his America First Agenda.”  Well, I knew he supported trump, he had the hat. It’s still cringy that the number one thing on his platform feels like he’s saying “I support the big guy, and I’ll be a good little soldier.”

That said when I clicked on the learn more button, I was surprised that he doesn’t really support Trumps entire agenda. They share the mindset of making it more difficult for illegal immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Which, I’m not sure if Duane’s had to obtain a drivers license here in the last 20 years, but In 2008 it was a pain in the ass to obtain a drivers license here, and I was a legal citizen. There are no other talking points about “America First” on his website.

His second box “Restore Honest Elections!” 

Well, we talked about this at the door, we’ll get money out of politics right?   But that’s not what the sub bullet says. Actually, it says “Our primary opponent, Kevin Petersen, has failed to endorse Donald Trump for President.”  There was an audible sigh at this point.  Just because Donald Trump isn’t endorsed by a candidate does not automatically mean that the election wasn’t honest. 

There’s a Learn More button on all of the boxes and then more sighs.   He uses the acronym “RINO” which shames anyone who descents against the Trump lead Republican party. He also touts false claims that Megan Wolfe, Wisconsin elections commission administrator have been “repeatedly found guilty.” This is an outright lie and shows me that he’ll be wasting tax payer dollars by pursuing actions that are just going to get knocked down by the courts. I wont vote for representatives who will waste precious time and tax payers money on unfounded claims. 

So how honest do you really want our elections?

This point wanted to ensure that AB567 doesn’t pass. Which I think is absurd if we’re wanting to have fair an accurate voting. If Duane Wilson is concerned about tampering, he should be in favor of this bill. This makes it a felony for election officials to willfully neglect or refuse to do their duties. It also keeps ballots at the polling place to be counted.  So are we for or against fair elections?

Read more about this bill here: 

Points not worth arguing for in this box: Duane wilson wants to ban the use of voting machines that have internet capabilities which I understand the fear around being that we do little to invest in cyber security. This box also speaks to legislation to outlaw dropboxes for absentee ballots. This is another point I also think is not worth arguing over, but could if needed.

Box number 3 “Pro-Life”

Duane opposes abortion at any stage of gestation.  Well, as I told him at my door, that’s never set right with me.  I have a daughter to think of, a living, breathing, daughter. A daughter who may decide one day in the future to have sex *gasp* and she may not be able to carry.  I know this because I had complications with my pregnancies. If her life is at risk, SHES my baby.  I won’t vote for someone who will work to pass a law that could risk my daughter’s life one day.

That said, on another page his position only states that he has the endorsement of pro-life Wisconsin and then talks about what his opponent voted for.  He speaks nothing about the why behind his position or that he has a plan to do anything about this.  My guess is that his stance on this is pretty weak, but that he’s working with Pro-life groups.  The one call out is that he believes “every life is important and opposes abortion at any stage of gestation.” I asked him at the door “Who’s life?”  If Duane Wilson were here as I ran through his website, I’d want to know: if every life is important, why aren’t women’s lives important?  Why aren’t we doing more to support people who are living and breathing, including moms and infants?  Shouldn’t that be the focus?

“No Boys in Girls Sports.”  

Box number 4 is just making everything worse! One day in the future I’ll dive in to how OVER PLAYED this is but seriously, when my congress people are more focused on regulating a population of less than 5 % TOTAL – and less concerned with trying to fix the homelessness or depression rates of people across the state.  I just can’t stand with someone who 1) hasn’t done their research (If you want to know more about what I’m talking about with this let me know.) 2) doesn’t understand the implications of what they’re arguing for, and 3) wants to ban kids from sports in general… Duane, let the kids play.

This learn more page was interesting because it states on the page “No Boys in Girl Scouts” But as a girl scout troop leader, boys aren’t allowed in girl scouts… but girls are allowed in boy scouts and I think that’s silly, personally.  I wish my son could have been allowed to join in on the activities I taught my daughter.  It would have made my life a lot easier.

Stay in your lane

That said, it does explain more on Duane’s position… that 23 other states have banned biological males, and that republicans had passed a bill, but Tony Evers vetoed it.  He states that there is a reason that historically our nation has not allowed biological males to enter girl sports (but fails to state what that reason is.) He also wants legislation to stop schools from transitioning minors (which they don’t have anything to do with) and supports Parents having a say in curriculum and library materials.  The last point is also to give an opt in or out of mental health screenings or medical screenings (which as a parent, I get a letter sent home for every medical screening so that’s already happening.)

I have questions for Duane Wilson that I’d like him to reflect on:

  1. Who is going to check if my daughter is male or female before her softball games?
  2. What about children who are biologically both, where do they fit in? 
  3. What is your plan that will implement the “verification” here? I find the idea of a plan to check if a student is a male or female student to be invasive, unethical, and borderline criminal.
  4. Why are you planning to waste resources on an issue that only impacts 5% of the general public?
  5. Have you looked at what the Conservative parties did in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s – Especially around LGBTQ communities?

Tell me you’re a puppet with out telling me…

Those first 4 boxes were enough to make me want to call him back to my house and ask “WTF is this?” The verbiage is so “party” focused.  It even says “our opponent.” Who is “We” Mr. Wilson? I don’t even know that guy.  And why is your issue that he doesn’t support trump?  Is that really your number one issue with him or is that just the one you think will garner the most support from the Trump supporters you’re relying on to bring the vote home?

What I really don’t understand is why you aren’t promoting a more centerist agenda?  Even here in my county, while the red runs deep, there are more democratic and independent and “I don’t really care” voters here than red, it’s just that they don’t have a candidate that they feel they can stand behind. Why are you just “falling in line.”   After our conversation at the door, I figured you to be someone who stood on his morals, but there is NO descent here. You are solely party focused, and seem so closely aligned that I can’t tell if YOU actually believe any of this or if a campaign staffer just created your website from your talking points. For anyone not Mr. Wilson, lets dig in to the rest of it.

A Redeeming Box

“Protect Wisconsin Farmlands and Timberlands from being sold to Adversary Nation’s and their surrogates.”  To read more on AB 269 go here: I can’t necessarily say I support or don’t support it, but reading through the bill I would generally support this, I don’t know if it’s necessary, I’d have to do the research.  There is some questions I have on whether this would restrict say, a refugee from coming and purchasing land.. but overall just reading the language of the bill I could stand with Duane Wilson on this.  

Box 6

3 more to go “Defend and protect the right to bear arms.”  Is box 6.  I’m still up in the air about this and I’m looking forward to diving into this in my podcast.  Duane says “Wisconsin needs to pass a ‘Constitutional Carry.’ The Second Amendment was never meant to be something that required a permit in order to be covered by it.  Duane is a staunch defender of our 2nd Amendment.”

This amendment always intrigued me.  I believe that the founding fathers saw the dangers of guns, and also believed in the ability for a community to organize and defend themselves as fundamental right.  However, I’m not entirely sure that they completely agreed on whether we, as individuals should have the right to bear arms. 

The specificity in the amendment says “A well-regulated militia” which seems as if that is speaking to a group of people who are regulated, not to individuals. Even if it is speaking to individuals, by this logic it would stand to reason that a license would be something one should need. If I need a license to drive a car – and a car can be considered a weapon – then why shouldn’t I need a license to operate a gun?  That said, it’s one I’m open to discussion about because I also see the value in individuals maintaining the right to carry in order to stand up to oppression.

The last 2

AB470 opposition is the focus of box 7 – Duane Wilson claims “It would give the right of first refusal on new power generations to only existing companies.”  I have no idea what that means, and as I look at the bill it does say that.   According to Duane’s site “consumer organizations say this would lead to higher electrical prices for consumers in Wisconsin.  I’m not sure I agree with that and I’m not sure I really can say much on the bill. Judging by the wording it seems like the government is dictating how utility companies can access the funding in a group fund, and also saying that if a utility company constructs a utility station that connects to another company’s station that it’s owned by both companies.  Read more here: and if you have any feedback, leave it in the comments.

Lastly, Box 8 is “Repeal the Barn Wedding Bill” Which was a bill heavily lobbied for by the Tavern League of Wisconsin.   I dug in a bit, and this bill does a lot more than that.  However, this bill ensures that people who run events out of their barns maintain liquor licenses and if they choose not to, they must restrict their events to a specific number of times a year.  While I support small businesses, I also support the ability for others to “pursue” business, and I also believe that people who are serving a substance that can impair someone be required to learn about the substance they’re serving, and how it affects someone.  So, I support them having to have liquor licenses.   I don’t know that an outright repeal is the right move here especially considering the rest of the bills language.  You can read that here:

What else?

So now that I’ve shared my initial thoughts on Wilson and his campaign platform; I want to make two really strong points here. 1) My opinion of Wilson’s website is based on MY beliefs, and MY understanding.  His website gives off a slimy republican ickness. I believe in freedom, values, honesty, integrity, the individual pursuit of happiness, and in general it is my belief that the republicans who support trump have sold out and have lost interest in representing the people.  I also believe that the republicans who believe that Trump has the best ideas, can’t possibly have my best interests at heart. 

The second and most important point here.  I perceived the Duane Wilson who came to my door to be a good guy – a hard working, country loving, traditionalist who truly believes he’s just doing the right thing.  He’s leaning on the monetary and campaign support of a party who is the only logical choice for going up against another of a 2 party system.  This is MY perception, based on my beliefs, and understanding that I have gained in the last 10 years of having an interest in politics.  

Additionally, my perception is that because he stands so closely aligned with Trump and the Republican party, he’s most likely already bought and sold.  IF he gets elected, he’ll be in the debt of the Republican party and in order to maintain his position for the 2 or 3 terms that he said he’d only stay in for, he’ll need their support to run against a democratic nominee in the future.  So, rest assured, he won’t be voting for us, he’ll be voting for the big money that sits at the RNC and pulls the strings and calls the shots.

I really wanted to like Duane Wilson… and I do.  

Despite my harsh critique of his website… I’d have lunch, or get coffee with Wilson. I believe that he has a backbone somewhere in him and that if he heard enough from the constituents in his district, he’d do the right thing.  But “The Right Thing” is based on morals and beliefs.   So, while I would be happy to sit down and discuss these points, share my perspective and listen to his.  Whether or not his right thing is the same as my right thing is still left to be determined.

With all of this said, I encourage you to go to his website ( for yourself and take a look at his campaign promises.  Decide if you want to support him, and if it’s not, I encourage you to reach out to him.  He said he wants to hear from us, let’s give him something to talk about.

Should I check out Petersen and give Petersen an honest critique too?

If you enjoy talking about politics you are welcome to book a call with me. I stand by the idea that I’d grab coffee with Duane Wilson

Also be sure to follow along. I plan to launch a pod cast this year talking about policy and digging deep into our documents. I really believe we need to have hard conversations around the fundamentals. What did the founding fathers mean? What do we need for our current day? And how do we come together to agree?

About Stephanie Kunkel
Stephanie Kunkel is a published author, who is passionate about personal development, compassionate leadership, and making big changes that truly make things better for everyone. She's got a masters degree in leadership and management and is a Certified Mental Health First Aider.


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Stephanie Kunkel

Stephanie Kunkel is a published author, who is passionate about personal development, compassionate leadership, and making big changes that truly make things better for everyone. She's got a masters degree in leadership and management and is a Certified Mental Health First Aider.