After months of speculation, Mayor of Madison Paul Soglin officially announced Wednesday morning he will be seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor of Wisconsin in this year’s election.

Soglin joins an already crowded field of Democratic Party gubernatorial candidates, including State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma and Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik.

University of Wisconsin political science professor Barry Burden said Soglin’s candidacy will be taken seriously in the already expansive Democratic field.

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“He has been a long-time mayor of the second biggest city in the state,” Burden said. “It a challenging job that requires administrative skill and has allowed Soglin to develop executive experience.”

With the primary election eight months away, no dominant Democratic candidate has emerged. But, due to Soglin’s experience and visibility, Burden said he occupies a position in the “upper tier” of the candidates who have already announced.

Burden said Republicans in the state will try to paint Soglin as an “out-of-touch” and urban liberal with values that are at odds with the rest of the state — a political tactic which has already been observed in the fallout of a story surrounding Soglin’s 1975 decision to give the key to the city to Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro.

Reporting from the Associated Press highlighted how Soglin travelled to Cuba three times and met with Castro twice during his time as mayor in the 1970s, a relationship which included Soglin’s eventual decision to give the key to the city to Castro in 1975.

Following intensified speculation of Soglin’s gubernatorial candidacy in early January, Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans criticized Soglin for the 43-year-old decision.

Criticism of Soglin, however, has not just come from the political right. Individuals and organizations on the left have lodged criticisms against Soglin as well.

Matthew Brauginn, a representative of Young, Gifted and Black Coalition, said Soglin has been hostile to marginalized communities through the policing, criminal justice and poverty alleviation policies he’s pursued as mayor.

“As the single largest budget item, what’s really missing is the support of divestment and community investment policies,” Brauginn said. “Even Chief [Mike] Koval has admitted more police don’t solve the underlying problems, only direct community investment and other anti-poverty measures will. So why keep investing in ideas that don’t work?”

With the exception of the mayor’s work in combating voter suppression laws and environmental degradation, Brauginn said there are very few Soglin policies YGB is supportive of.

Additionally, Brauginn said Soglin has been, in some cases, hostile to outside voices when it comes to formulating policies aimed at combating racial disparities in the city.

“He’s stubborn, but there are a lot of ideas in and outside of Madison in addressing racial disparities that just aren’t listened to and are dismissed instead of explored,” Brauginn said.

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Regardless of who wins the Democratic Party primary, Burden said Walker is seen as the favorite to win the general election in November. His previous electoral victories and his standing with undecided voters are signs that a third Walker term is not unlikely.

“Although he is a polarizing figure and his approval ratings remain below 50 percent, he has run three successful statewide campaigns and will be well prepared to win again,” Burden said. “Among undecided voters he will get the benefit of the doubt.”

The party primaries will be held Aug. 14, with the general election occurring Nov. 6.