In a barn outside Madison, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker throws his hat in the ring, criticizing Gov. Jim Doyle.[/media-credit]

DANE — Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker formally announced his plan to run for governor in 2010 at various campaign stops throughout the state Tuesday, including Dane, a township north of Madison.

Walker is the second Republican candidate in less than a week to announce his intentions to run for governor. Former congressman Mark Neumann said last week he plans to formally enter the race sometime between now and October.

At his campaign stop at Henry Farms, LLC in Dane, Walker criticized the practices of Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, saying Doyle’s policies have lead to the state’s current economic climate by reducing the number of jobs throughout the state and increasing the state’s current budget shortfall.

“For years, too many of the politicians in Madison ignored the looming crises so they could continue to spend more and more taxpayer dollars,” Walker said. “Now their solution to soaring budget deficits and record job losses is to call for more government spending — paid for with higher taxes on Wisconsin families and employers.”

Walker cited a specific example of Doyle’s interaction with Thomas Industries, a company formally located in Sheboygan before relocating to Louisiana.

According to Walker, because the governor traveled to Spain rather than meeting with company officials in an effort to convince them to stay in Wisconsin, the company decided to relocate out of state.

“These job losses are devastating for a place like Sheboygan, which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state,” Walker said. “And while families, retirees and employees are barely able to get by, Gov. Doyle wants to raise our taxes by nearly $3 billion. These are increases that working families, seniors and employers cannot afford.”

Although the crowd at Henry Farms was in support of Walker’s efforts, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Joe Wineke criticized Walker’s attacks on the current administration.

“In 30 years in politics and government, I’ve never seen a candidate kick off a campaign with such negative tone,” Wineke said in a statement. “Scott Walker offers no new ideas and no real solutions — just negative political attacks. He might as well call this the ‘no ideas’ tour.”

Walker’s record as Milwaukee County executive, with his “constant flip-flopping,” shows he would not be a good fit for governor, Wineke added, suggesting Walker should perform the duties of his current job before he begins campaigning for governor.

Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski disagreed with Wienke, arguing Walker’s experience will make him an excellent governor.

“As Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker held down property taxes while maintaining a good quality of life and keeping services in check. And he did it while facing a crippling pension buyout that he inherited,” Kukowski said.

Neumann said he was not surprised to hear about Walker’s announcement, calling it “expected,” and wished him the best of luck in the race.

“He’s a great guy. … I have nothing against him,” Neumann said. “I do think it’s going to come down to who the people of the state perceive can bring more jobs to the state.”

Presently, Republicans are unsure if they will end up having to have a primary, according to Wisconsin Republican Party spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski, and the party does not plan to formally endorse a candidate until its convention in May 2010.

Doyle had no comment on Walker’s announcement, according to spokesperson Lee Sensenbrenner. Presently, the governor has not formally made plans to run for a third term in 2010, though he has been raising funds over the last few months.