After much speculation and encouragement, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Sunday he will seek the Democratic nomination for Wisconsin governor.
The announcement came at a time when the Democrats were without a major candidate, as former candidate Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton left the race last month for “personal reasons.”
In a statement released Sunday, Barrett said he is running for governor because the state’s problems need a “common sense approach.”
“I am running for governor because we can build a strong economy, protect what is important, and create a great future for ourselves and our children,” Barrett said in the statement.
Barrett said he delayed the decision to run as a result of the assault he sustained at the Wisconsin State Fair, when he was attacked while trying to break up a domestic dispute.
Barrett also elaborated on his experiences as mayor of Milwaukee and how he has already faced problems like decreased revenue, poor business climate, a downward economy and failing schools.
“These are the challenges I work on every single day. These are the issues I’m ready to tackle statewide,” Barrett said. “I am committed to breaking through ideological walls and breaking down the old and tired political boundaries.”
Gov. Jim Doyle, who declined a third term in office in June and opened the race for competitors on both sides, praised Barrett’s accomplishments in a statement released Sunday.
“Tom Barrett has demonstrated he is a strong leader for Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin,” Doyle said in the statement. “With a strong record of job creation in Milwaukee, he will be an outstanding governor focused on helping Wisconsin rebuild from the recession.”
Bruce Pfaff, spokesperson for Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Congressman Mark Neumann, said Barrett’s candidacy does not have a significant impact on the Neumann campaign.
“We have said all along it’s not about who is in race but who has the best ideas to move the state forward,” Pfaff said. “Mark has a plan and it doesn’t really matter who else is in the race.”
Pfaff added the race is coming down to those who are “career politicians,” and those like Neumann who have both public service and business experience.
Keith Gilkes, campaign manager for Milwaukee County Executive and Republican candidate Scott Walker, blasted Barrett’s experience in a statement released Sunday.
“If you like the big spending, big taxing policies of Jim Doyle, then you’ll love Mayor Tom Barrett,” Gilkes said. “Barrett, aka Tom the Taxer, has been for big spending and big taxes at every step of his career from his time in the State Senate … and now as mayor of Milwaukee where he has increased city taxes by tens of millions of dollars.”
Asher Heimermann, a Sheboygan high schooler responsible for the candidate drafting group “Wisconsin for Tom Barrett,” said the group is very pleased with Barrett’s decision and looks forward to having contact with the campaign in the future.
Heimermann added the group is selling T-shirts touting Barrett’s candidacy on its website and plans to give the profits to the campaign.