Kohl-Riggs: 'I want to bring honesty and humor to the campaign process and to make people want to pay attention.'
A different kind of candidate might soon see his name on the recall ballot challenging Gov. Scott Walker in the Republican primary next month.
His motto? "Arthur Kohl-Riggs: Less of a joke than Scott Walker."
Kohl-Riggs, 23, says he hopes to run not just as an alternative to the controversial governor in question, but as a second option for those, like him, who do not feel "energized" by Walker's democratic challengers.
"I want to provide an outlet for people who don't necessarily want to vote for any of the current candidates," he says. "I want to make a statement about bringing Wisconsin back to its proud Republican heritage."
A visible figure in the Madison protest movement last spring, founder of the popular "Shit Scott Walker Is Doing To My State" Facebook page, and regular videographer of Capitol protests and press conferences, Kohl-Riggs says his campaign for a place on the primary ballot serves two chief purposes.
The first, he says, is practical.
"By guaranteeing there is a Republican challenger to Scott Walker in the primary, I create incentive for Walker supporters to actually vote in the Republican primary as opposed to trying to disingenuously influence the democratic primary," he explains.
Beyond that, Kohl-Riggs compares his role to that of presidential candidate Ron Paul, saying he hopes to introduce new conversations to the recall campaign.
"I want to bring honesty and humor to the campaign process and to make people want to pay attention," Kohl-Riggs says. "The truth, the honesty, is a really powerful way to connect with people because, more often than not, they're used to being lied to."
During last spring's Capitol occupation, Kohl-Riggs stayed overnight in the rotunda for weeks, sleeping outside the two nights he was locked out.
"It was definitely the most powerful experience I've ever had in my life," he says. "It definitely helped solidify my commitment to seeing Scott Walker out of office."
Thirteen months later, Kohl-Riggs is just as committed to ousting the governor, but less enthused about the pool of Democratic candidates emerging to challenge Walker. He doesn't feel most voters are "energized" about Democrats Tom Barrett, Kathleen Falk, Doug La Follette, and Kathleen Vinehout.
He hopes to hit on traditional conservative themes of "honest, limited government" rather than "radical and extreme policies" that "don't hold any resemblance to the party [Walker] supposedly represents."
Still early in the campaign, Kohl-Riggs has already received his share of criticism.
"There were some concerns about how we'll be perceived by Democrats, and 'Is this gonna hurt more than it would help?'" he concedes.
But Kohl-Riggs maintains his campaign aligns with the overall recall goal of educating the electorate about the governor's "failed policies" and simply represents "a different way to focus recall energy."
Kohl-Riggs explains his reasons for running in this video.
Currently, Kohl-Riggs' major focus is actually getting on the ballot and he needs to collect 2,000 signatures by April 10, a task he calls "daunting." He says he has personally collected over 300 signatures and supporters around the state are circulating petitions for more. The recall primary is on Tuesday, May 8.