Dave Reid

Doyle’s Decision Could Send Ripples Through Milwaukee’s Political Landscape

By - Aug 19th, 2009 08:08 am

Governor Jim Doyle‘s announcement that he will not be seeking a third term could send ripples through Milwaukee’s political landscape.  The most commonly mentioned named Democratic Party members that may run for Governor include, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.  Two Republican Party members are already running, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann.  Although County Executive Walker has been running for the Governor’s office for just about as long as one can remember,  and now seems poised to become the overall front runner, the other possible Milwaukee area candidate for Governor is Mayor Barrett.

It is possible that the race could come down to Barrett versus Walker, and because of this the potential impacts on Milwaukee are significant.  If this happens the Milwaukee area is guaranteed to have one top level position albeit the Mayor’s office, or County Executive become vacated.  Clearly, the impacts of either of Barrett or Walker winning have dramatically different outcomes for Milwaukee.

Politically, the policies are well known, it’s clear that Walker would attempt to hold taxes down at almost any cost, likely pushing again for passing TABOR, and as experienced by residents of Milwaukee County by cutting services or in some cases neglecting services.  Holding taxes down is a commendable goal, unless it negatively impacts vital Milwaukee area services such as mass transit, the Milwaukee Public School System, and parks.  Finally, Walker has consistently opposed any sort of fixed rail system, and as he has in the past work in opposition to the KRM project and Milwaukee’s downtown streetcar.

Obviously, Barrett would bring and different set of policies to Madison, a set that would be open to expanding mass transit and building fixed rail, but a set that would in all likelihood raise taxes to cover the increasing cost of services.  Recently, Mayor Barrett showed his support for fixed rail by successfully lobbying Washington to split the $91.5 million worth of federal funds which had been designated to Milwaukee for the purpose of improving mass transit back in the 90’s, so that the money can finally be spent on developing a Milwaukee streetcar system.  On the taxes front property taxes have grown under Mayor Barrett’s helm, though not terribly fast, and fees have certainly risen.  Prior to the market crash the budgets had generally been tight but raising fees, and cutting staff had been the Barrett’s method of slowing the rate of increase in property taxes.

Clearly, rising taxes, and the importance of mass transit are two vital issues that could dramatically impact the future of Milwaukee.  But at the local level it’s far more interesting to speculate at the potential cast of characters that could attempt to replace either Mayor Barrett or County Executive Walker.

For the Mayors Office if Barrett were to win the Gubernatorial race.

  • Former Alderman Michael D’Amato.  Recently former Alderman D’Amato has rounded out his resume by becoming involved in education efforts, and the M7 economic development initiative.  At one time he had flirted with running for Milwaukee County Executive, but choose to pass, this might be a better opportunity for his return to politics.
  • Alderman Robert Bauman.  Alderman Bauman regularly takes an active role in citywide issues, such as mass transit, as such he might consider entering the race.
  • Common Council President Willie Hines.  Council President Hines has broad appeal, and is often considered as a possible candidate, this could be his shot.
  • Alderman Bob Donovan.  Alderman Donovan is always working to be in the news, putting out a press release, holding a press conference, or taking a shot at Mayor Barrett, so it certainly appears as though he’d be interested in the office.
  • Rep Pedro Colon. (D)  Despite his failure to win the race for Milwaukee City Attorney against incumbent Grant Langley, he may still have aspirations for City Hall.
  • U.S. Rep Gwen Moore (D).  It wouldn’t be the first time a U.S. Rep from Milwaukee ran for Mayor, and it might be seen as a stepping stone to even higher office.

For County Executive if Walker were to win the Gubernatorial race.

  • Milwaukee County Parks Director Sue Black.  Parks Director Black has done an fantastic job running the Milwaukee County Park System in the face of budget cuts and staff reductions.  She has consider running in the past, but the prospect of running against your boss probably ended any serious consideration.  With Walker out of the way she may consider it again.
  • Sheriff David Clarke (I).  Despite continually running as an Independent Democrat, he is still popular among conservatives, and has always appeared interested in a political office.
  • Rep. Jon Richards (D).  He has considered running for County Executive in the past, and with Walker out of the way this door might finally be open.
  • Rep. Jeff Stone (R). Stone has experience managing his own business, has reached across the aisle on issues like transit lending his support to the RTA. His name is almost always mentioned when it comes to County Executive in the post-Walker era.
  • Supervisor John Weishan Jr.  Supervisor Weishan is often in the middle of big issue and debates, not always winning them, but in the fight regardless.
  • Supervisor Chris Larson.  As a freshman Supervisor this may be a long shot, but an opening like this don’t come along all too often and Supervisor Larson might have to consider running.
  • Joe Klein (I).  Klein is an extremely long and quite frankly a silly shot, but he’s likely to run as he has twice before.

Who did we miss?


2 thoughts on “Doyle’s Decision Could Send Ripples Through Milwaukee’s Political Landscape”

  1. Wanda H says:

    Mike D’Amato can’t run for mayor, he quit his job as alderman, kind of like Sarah Palin, he doesn’t really want to represent his constituents, plus he is a lobbyist for developers per the bookends post.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Wanda H Ummm no it was nothing like the Palin situation. Mike D’Amato finished his term, he didn’t quite in the middle like Palin. He was elected multiple times, so I’m thinking people must of thought he was representing them fairly well.

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