Gov. Scott McCallum and four Democratic candidates are gearing up for the 2002 gubernatorial race.
Four Democrats have announced their candidacy, including Attorney General Jim Doyle, State Sen. Gary George, D-Milwaukee, U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett, D-Milwaukee, and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
The race has been friendly so far, with no negative advertising. The candidates have agreed that negative campaigning is unnecessary.
“[Barrett] sees [his Democratic opponents] as friends, which makes the primary an interesting battle of friend versus friend,” said Joel Brennan, campaign manager for Barrett.
Falk’s office agreed that it is a friendly race.
“[Falk] is focused on her message and does not compare herself to her other rivals, whom she views as friends,” said Tom Russell, campaign manager for Falk.
Each candidate feels their qualifications and current positions will help them in the quest for governor.
Falk said her current post as Dane County executive gives her the necessary qualifications to be governor.
“[Falk] has traveled around the state, making nine stops — and meeting a lot of people; this will help her in the election,” Russell said.
Falk is most concerned with citizens’ rights. As Dane County executive, Falk was dedicated to fostering programs which improved the quality of life of the citizens she represented.
George announced that if elected, his top priority would be protecting the environment, and protecting the citizens of Wisconsin against decisions made in Washington.
George’s campaign essentially began in June when he announced his candidacy and began television advertising.
Dave Begel, George’s spokesperson, said George will continue to use television as a main campaigning medium.
“The bulk of the senator’s campaign money will be used for TV and radio advertising,” he said.
Doyle’s spokesman, Thad Nation, said the candidate hopes to keep the race issue-based.
Nation said Doyle’s work as attorney general to lower the state’s crime rate, as well as his history of winning statewide elections, makes him the strongest candidate.
Doyle’s concerns in the race include the need for graduating students to remain in Wisconsin, and the rising cost of tuition, said Nation. However, he had no response regarding what specific proposals Doyle might make in order to alleviate those rising costs.
In Barrett’s time in the House of Representatives, he focused on quality-of-life issues such as health care, crime prevention, childcare, education, and fiscal reform. He can be expected to continue focusing on these issues in the race for governor.
Although McCallum is in the race, he is paying little attention to the campaigns of the Democratic candidates. With the election 13 months away, McCallum is focusing on his job at hand, said Debbie Monterrey-Millett, his press secretary.
“[McCallum’s] job is running the state of Wisconsin,” she said. “The rest will sort itself out.”
Monterrey-Millett would not speculate on the most formidable Democratic candidate.
Whoever challenges McCallum will have their hands full, because of the governor’s access to more funds, Brennan said, and historically Democrats have always been outspent by Republicans.
However, he noted that support is more important than money.
“Money is not as important as volunteer support,” he said. “I would hate to put a dollar amount on what it takes to become governor of Wisconsin.”