Political campaign sign vandalized with spray-painted swastikas in Onalaska

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — Onalaska police officers recovered a stolen political sign vandalized with a swastika. The symbol covered a sign for Ryan Huebsch, the 94th assembly Republican candidate.

As political advertisements get nastier, so do attacks from extremists. These days, no race is exempt. Political analysts say this is a sign of the times.

“Vandalism in the past used to be closer to a disappearing road sign,” said Joe Heim, a retired UWL professor and political analyst.

These days, that vandalism has gotten more extreme. Huebsch says several of his signs had been stolen during his campaign, but this was the first case of vandalism.

“This one in particular got stolen from a location, apparently got vandalized with a Nazi symbol,” Huebsch said.

Political analyst Joe Heim says though acts like these are still not frequent, they are popping up more often.

“Those are not positive signs of democracy or positive signs for elections, because they are examples of extremism,” Heim said.

Huebsch’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Steve Doyle, condemned the vandalism.

“There’s no place in politics for defacing other peoples’ yard signs or ripping up their campaign literature or anything else like that,” Doyle said.

Doyle feels this could be a response to political attacks, but asks people to find other ways to express their frustrations.

“Don’t get upset, vote. That’s the reaction that people should have. If you’re upset, go work for a campaign. Don’t do things that are destructive, try to do things that are positive,” Doyle said.

Neither candidate knows who is responsible for the theft or vandalism.

“Don’t go to this. This stealing signs, vandalizing signs. That’s not the coulee region that I know,” Huebsch said.

Heim explains that as the gap widens and politics become more divisive, politicians themselves have a role to play.

“Tone down the rhetoric. Lower the temperature,” Heim said. “It is the responsibility of the leaders of the parties, the elected leaders of the democrats, and the elected leaders of the republicans to speak up when things like this occur.”

Both candidates and Heim say the best way to make your voice heard is to vote and get involved with campaigns, not vandalism.