Barrett Will Run for Reelection
Mayor calling supporters, plans to run for 5th term in 2020, they say.
Mayor Tom Barrett plans to run for reelection in 2020.
Barrett is calling people and asking for their support, according to sources close to the mayor.
One of those called was Don Layden, an attorney and partner with Quarles & Brady, who has been a longtime supporter of the mayor. “I think Tom has made it pretty clear that he is running,” Layden says. “He is raising money. He likes the job. I believe he is running for mayor.”
“I’m 99 percent sure he’s going to run for reelection,” says a Barrett campaign insider. “He’s been calling people and asking for their support.”
It had been widely assumed after Barrett won office in 2016 that this would be his last term as mayor. Ald. Tony Zielinski‘s early announcement he would run for mayor, first reported by my colleague Jeramey Jannene, was seen as a sign Barrett probably wasn’t running. And alderman and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton was also seen as a likely candidate as well, assuming Barrett retired.
But Barrett tipped off the fact he wasn’t ready to retire when he floated the idea of running for governor in the August primary election. While he eventually dismissed the idea, the statement he released made clear he had no intentions of fading into the sunset.
“I love my job as mayor and that’s where my heart is,” Barrett said in a Facebook post. “I hope to serve as mayor for many years to come, to continue to advance Milwaukee forward. I’ve still got the fire in the belly, and I wake up every day ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”
Unless Barrett is redefining the word, his hope to serve “many” years is telling us he wants to serve longer than the year and nine months left in his term.
Those who know Barrett say he has no interest in retiring or taking the sort of high-paying attorney job an ex-mayor could easily secure. As the campaign source says, Barrett, now 64, has friends who’ve retired and suggested he should do the same and the mayor flatly dismissed the idea. Barrett has talked about what he might do if he wasn’t mayor, and when he ticks off the activities that interest him most, “it’s all stuff I do now as mayor,” Barrett said, according to the source.
Barrett has been very active politically in this term, attending many events in the community. He has also been holding his regular round of fundraisers since his election in 2020, says a Democratic insider. That includes a $100-per-person affair Monday night at the Ivy House in Walker’s Point, with a $400 price tag to become a “Mayor’s Club Member.” A campaign source estimates more than 300 people attended.
Some City Hall insiders have speculated that Barrett has made a deal with Hamilton, promising he would not complete a fifth term, opening the way for Hamilton to become acting mayor prior to 2024. This theory — and it’s only that — arose on the heels of Hamilton’s decision to remove Zielinski as head of the powerful licenses committee (also first reported by Urban Milwaukee). The move came “amid concerns that (Zielinski) pressured business owners for campaign contributions,” as the Journal Sentinel reported.
But Zielinski offered a counter-theory, accusing Barrett and Hamilton of plotting to undermine his mayoral bid. “Everyone in political circles knows it is in their self-interest to conspire against me,” Zielinski told the paper.
The campaign source flatly rejected this claim, noting that Zielinski’s controversial style of fundraising would be the perfect issue to attack him on, and removing him from the committee chair isn’t something Barrett requested.
Back in February, as Urban Milwaukee reported, Barrett was hit with a mini-rebellion by council members on a couple issues. The fact that he wasn’t running for reelection may have helped embolden council members. “If he keeps going this way the mayor is going to become a lame duck,” Ald. Terry Witkowski predicted.
Those problems may continue, but one thing is clear: the mayor is not a lame duck any more.
Jeramey Jannene did additional reporting for this story.
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More about the 2020 Mayoral Race
- Vote Tuesday: Mayoral Candidates - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 14th, 2020
- City Hall: Presenting the “Real State of the City” - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 12th, 2020
- State of the Other City Address - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Feb 10th, 2020
- Barrett dodges debate? - Ald. Tony Zielinski - Feb 9th, 2020
- Slow To Question, Slow To Respond - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Jan 30th, 2020
- City Hall: Meet the Candidates for City Offices - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2020
- City Hall: Conservative in Mayor Race Ejected - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2020
- City Hall: Taylor Blames FPC Problems on Mayor - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 5th, 2019
- Senator Taylor calls for Barrett to resign over confusion and mismanagement of Fire and Police Commission - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Dec 5th, 2019
- Team Taylor Welcomes Tom To The 2020 Mayoral Race - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Nov 20th, 2019
- City Hall: Barrett Officially Declares Re-Election Bid - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 20th, 2019
- Statement from the Barrett for Milwaukee Campaign: Lena Taylor’s Misinformation Campaign - Press Release - Nov 15th, 2019
- City Hall: Taylor Slams Barrett Over Residency - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 15th, 2019
- The Devastating Results of Residency Law Change - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Nov 15th, 2019
- Back in the News: Poll Shows Barrett Way Ahead - Bruce Murphy - Nov 12th, 2019
- City Hall: Zielinski for Mayor Bus Ads Debut - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 7th, 2019
- City Hall: Ashanti Hamilton Ends Mayoral Bid - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 12th, 2019
- City Hall: Hamilton Could Still Run for Mayor - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 4th, 2019
- City Hall: Lena Taylor Announces Run for Mayor - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 3rd, 2019
- Murphy’s Law: Should Barrett Worry About Reelection? - Bruce Murphy - Aug 29th, 2019
- City Hall: Will He or Won’t He Run for Mayor? - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 30th, 2019
- City Hall: Will Lena Taylor Run for Mayor? - Jeramey Jannene - May 20th, 2019
- City Hall: To Host DNC, Barrett Must Be Reelected - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 14th, 2019
- City Beat: Episode 007 – Mayoral Candidate Tony Zielinski - Urban Milwaukee - Jan 8th, 2019
- City Hall: Hamilton Ally May Run for His Seat - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 12th, 2018
- City Hall: Ashanti Hamilton Files for Mayoral Run - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 29th, 2018
- City Hall: Zielinski Ramps Up Mayoral Campaign - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 10th, 2018
- Murphy’s Law: Barrett Will Run for Reelection - Bruce Murphy - Jun 28th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Zielinski Will Run for Mayor - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 29th, 2017