A name-calling Facebook post by the husband of the Rock County clerk has turned up the heat in her re-election bid.
Tim Tollefson attacked his wife’s opponent, Yuri Rashkin, calling him a socialist, among other things, last week.
Rashkin is challenging County Clerk Lisa Tollefson in the Aug. 11 Democratic primary election. The stakes are high, as the winner will face no opponent on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Tim wrote his post last week, encouraging his “conservative friends” to vote in the Democratic primary because there are no contested races in the Republican primary and so they could ”Help keep the little agenda driven socialist Yuri out of the clerk’s office and go in and vote for one Democrat, Lisa Tollefson.”
“I did not know that he was even making that post. I had no clue,” Lisa said Tuesday.
When she found out, “I immediately called him and told him to take it down.”
Lisa said she doesn’t know what her husband meant by the name-calling.
“He is still sleeping on the couch,” she said with no hint of humor. “I am very angry at the man. … I know frustration was part of it. He was trying to be my protector,” after reading innuendos and misleading information about her on Facebook.
“I’m frustrated because I never would’ve pegged Yuri as any of that,” Lisa said.
Rashkin called the attack “scare tactics” and “dog-whistle politics.” He interpreted the post as an attack on his background as an immigrant. Rashkin’s parents brought him to the United States in 1988, when Russia was part of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and they were considered refugees.
Rashkin deplored what he sees as an attempt to inject partisan politics into the race.
Lisa said she tries to be as neutral as possible in running the clerk’s office, where part of the job is overseeing elections.
“I try to make sure nobody can tell what (party) I am. I believe this office should be nonpartisan. We run elections. We should be as neutral as possible to keep the integrity in our elections. I run as a Democrat because I do lean to the left, but I think this office should be a neutral zone.”
Tim is the Harmony town clerk, a job Lisa once held, and he is Lisa’s campaign treasurer, although she said that might change.
Rashkin quoted Michelle Obama’s words, “When they go low, we go high,” and said, “I’ll let voters make up their minds and decide what they think about this. … I want this campaign to be about the different visions for the future of the office, not about personal attacks.”
Rashkin speculated that Tim Tollefson was also accusing him of being political, but he said he does not apologize for his record of community involvement and public service.
Rashkin said he is not a socialist, adding: “People that are socialists that I know tell me they do not consider me a socialist.”
Rashkin said he never had problems with Lisa Tollefson when he ran for Janesville City Council and during his current tenure as a Rock County Board member, and found her to be a nice person.
Tim Tollefson apologized on Facebook, saying, “Comments I made against Lisa’s opponent were inappropriate and came from a place of frustration and anger.”
He said he was reacting to accusations and misrepresentations about his wife on Facebook.
Lisa said she didn’t call Rashkin right away because she was so upset, and then he called her, and she apologized.
Rashkin said the apology was less than what he would like: “No one apologized to me for using those words. I don’t care now. We’ve got other things to worry about. And voters will decide if that was sufficient or not. It’s fine with me.”