MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Liberal rocker John Mellencamp wants Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to know he supports collective bargaining and union rights and says Walker should be aware of that before using his song "Small Town" on the campaign trail.
Mellencamp's publicist Bob Merlis told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he sent Walker's campaign an email not asking him to stop using the song, but to inform him of Mellencamp's beliefs.
"He's a very liberal person," Merlis said of the singer. "He appeared at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. His wife at the time was a delegate at large. He's very pro-collective bargaining and the fight for a living wage."
Merlis said he sent an email to Walker's campaign spokeswoman Ciara Matthews. She did not immediately return a message to AP seeking comment.
Walker faces a June 5 recall election that was motivated over anger related to his proposal passed last year that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers. Walker embarked Tuesday on a six-city campaign swing across Wisconsin, and Merlis said he read a news story that mentioned he played "Small Town" while in Milwaukee.
The song, a fond look back at Mellencamp's own upbringing in Indiana, was a top ten hit in 1985. Walker was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., but was raised in the small Wisconsin city of Delavan, where about 8,500 people currently live.
Politicians for years have been using rock songs on the campaign trail, and Mellencamp has found himself crossways with candidates before.
Mellencamp contacted Republican presidential hopeful John McCain in 2008 when he was using "Our Country" on the campaign trail. Just as he did with Walker's campaign, Merlis wrote McCain's camp a letter explaining Mellencamp's liberal leanings and that he supported Democrat John Edwards at the time.
McCain stopped using Mellencamp's songs after the letter was sent.
"Small Town" and "Pink Houses" are two of the most frequently used Mellencamp songs by politicians, Merlis said.
"More often than not it's right wing candidates who use his songs, which is somewhat paradoxical," Merlis said.