Robert Slamka says a beef with his former union isn’t the only reason he decided to challenge Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, in the Democratic Party primary for the 78th AD.

But the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union’s endorsement of Subeck didn’t sit well with him.

Subeck, meanwhile, says the union didn’t endorse her in 2018 as Slamka claims, and the Dem’s mailer listing the backing was actually for the 2016 cycle. She also says his ire is misplaced after she tried helping him in the dispute and recommending various avenues to pursue his grievance.

Slamka, a former sheet metal worker, said his issues with the union include his belief that it was helping non-union workers get jobs while he and others were out of work.

Subeck said Slamka approached her office for help and eventually recommended that he speak with an attorney, saying she wasn’t in a position to provide the aid he wanted.

“Since then, he’s been pretty persistent in his belief that there is something nefarious to this, and that’s just not true,” Subeck said.

Slamka, meanwhile, says his work looking into the activities of his former union would give him “leverage” over GOP leaders such as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in seeking changes to laws limiting union activity.

“I’m not loyal to anything or any party,” Slamka said. “Now that we live in this two-party system that no one seems really happy with, I think the time is right for some people to start expressing their independence, and that’s where I’m at.”

The two largely line up on many issues, including their support for accepting federal money to expand Medicaid and for the changes in police policy that Gov. Tony Evers proposed earlier this summer in response to the death of George Floyd.

Subeck, who was first elected to her deep blue seat in 2014, has co-authored legislation to expand background checks on firearm purchases and what backers call a “red-flag” law that would allow family members or police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed to present a danger to themselves or others.

Subeck said the bills have wide support with the general public, but haven’t progressed in the state Legislature due to opposition from Republican lawmakers that she said is driven by the NRA. Subeck said she’d be open to making changes to the bills if it meant getting something through the GOP-controlled Legislature.

“But in working toward a bill that can pass, we need to be cautious not to give up the intent of the bill,” Subeck said. “The bill serves a purpose. Getting something passed just to get it passed won’t be enough.”

Slamka, who said he owns an AR-15, supports the concept behind both bills. Still, he suggested the red-flag law bill in its current form wouldn’t allow firearms to be removed from someone as quickly as needed to make a difference. He also warned once in the hands of law enforcement, it is difficult for those who prove they’re not a threat to get back what’s rightfully theirs.

“It’s going to require individuals to actually work with those individuals, not just take away their rights and see what happens next,” he said.

Listen to the interview with Slamka:

Listen to the interview with Subeck:

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