Gordon Hintz to run for Assembly Democratic leadership

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) State Rep. Gordon Hintz said Friday he is running to be the next Democratic leader in the Wisconsin state Assembly.

Hintz, of Oshkosh, is the first Democrat to express interest in the post after Rep. Peter Barca announced on Thursday he would step down at the end of the month.

In a statement, Hintz described his party as one that has "always believed in the values of community, fairness, and opportunity."

"As leader, I will work every day to contrast these core Democratic values with a Republican Party that has never been more unpopular than it is now," he said.

Barca, of Kenosha, announced his resignation after a closed-door meeting Thursday with Democrats who have been upset with his leadership. Barca, who has held the post since 2011, recently angered some Democrats when he joined majority Republicans in voting for a $3 billion tax incentive bill for Foxconn Technology Group. Two other Democrats also voted for it. Foxconn plans to locate a flat-screen manufacturing plant near Barca's southeastern Wisconsin legislative district.

Democrats have their smallest representation in the Assembly since 1957. Republicans have a 64-35 majority.

State GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman called Hintz "sleazy" in a statement that noted a 2011 sexual misconduct citation in his past.

"While Republicans in the Legislature have fought to protect hard-working Wisconsin taxpayers, sleazy politician Gordon Hintz has created scandal after scandal, waging a personal war on women that shows that he doesn't have what it takes to lead anyone - even the historically small Democratic caucus," Zimmerman said.

Hintz, 43, was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and rose to be one of two Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee, which is charged with writing the state budget every two years.

Hintz is one of the more colorful personalities in the Assembly, having finished second at the first annual U.S. Air Guitar National Championships in 2003 under the stage name of Krye Tuff. He is also a member of the American Air Guitar Hall of Fame and appeared in the 2006 documentary "Air Guitar Nation" about performers who act like they are playing guitar, but actually don't have an instrument.

In February 2011, Hintz was cited by Appleton police for sexual misconduct for violating a city ordinance prohibiting touching or offering to touch sexual parts. Police said the citation was issued as part of an investigation into prostitution at the Heavenly Touch Massage Parlor in Appleton.

Two weeks later, immediately following a tense vote that came after 61 hours of debate on Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers, Hintz shouted "You're (expletive) dead!" to Republican Rep. Michelle Litjens. Hintz later apologized.

Hintz, 43, was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and rose to be one of two Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee, which is charged with writing the state budget every two years.

Litjens, who has since left the Legislature, is engaged to be married to Republican Speaker Robin Vos.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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