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Recent UW-River Falls grad challenges Rhoades

Most college graduates celebrate earning their degree by updating their resumes. Bob Hughes took on another task: Collecting the hundreds of signatures needed to get his name on the ballot for Wisconsin Assembly.

Hughes, 123 1/2 S. Main St., Apt. 204, River Falls, has filed as a Republican candidate to challenge Republican Kitty Rhoades for the 30th District Assembly seat she has held for 10 years. The primary election will be held Sept. 9.

"I don't want to be a politician. I would like to be a businessman who worked hard, saved equity and went into business for himself," said Hughes, 26, who finished his degree in marketing communications in May.

But, he said, Wisconsin businesses are stifled by laws and policies that allow out-of-state corporations to make profits here but avoid paying to educate the workforce they employ or to build and maintain the highways they use.

Hughes, who interned in the university Public Affairs office, said his plan had been to get a job, build contacts and equity and then open his own business. He's not sure what kind of business that would be.

"I'm kind of an idea guy," explained Hughes, who grew up in Elk Mound, a small town near Eau Claire.

But, he said, given the current political climate, "it's basically unfavorable to start a business in Wisconsin."

As an independent businessman, he would be "paying taxes to put myself out of business," said Hughes of advantages given to out-of-state corporations.

Hughes accused incumbents of being "bribed by campaign contributions."

He promises he will accept no donations of over $100 or contributions from political action committees (PACs).

Hughes said he has no qualms about challenging an incumbent by filing as a candidate from her party.

"I'm really a non-partisan kind of person," he said, but added that his political values -- fiscal responsibility and limited government -- most closely align with those of the Republican Party.

Hughes referred to a survey that he said showed 97 percent of people believe their elected representatives are failing "to do the will of the people."

Knocking on doors to collect over 700 nomination signatures, and now to ask for votes, is helping him understand what 30th District residents want and what they fear, said Hughes.

"The stress is in their eyes," he said of the elderly people he has met who struggle to pay property taxes as well as "skyrocketing" living costs.

But at other homes, he said, he sees young families who need quality schools.

His pledge to avoid political donations doesn't bother Hughes.

He said his campaign is based on "my own shoe leather, gas in my car and how much skin I can wear off my knuckles knocking on doors"

In the end, he said, direct contact is the way to win votes.

Because, said Hughes, "Campaigns signs don't vote. Bumper stickers don't vote. Newspaper inserts don't vote."

For more information about Hughes' candidacy, go to