Will He or Won’t He Run for Mayor?
Council president Ashanti Hamilton promises his decision by next week.
Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton promises to end the “will he or won’t he run for mayor” speculation next week.
In an interview with Urban Milwaukee, Hamilton said he will make a formal announcement in the coming week on the next phase of his campaign.
Hamilton opened a mayoral campaign account in November, but has never formally filed a declaration of candidacy for the office. The mayoral campaign account allows Hamilton to accept donations up to $6,000 instead of the approximately $800 aldermanic limit.
“The most important thing for me is: are the things I care about in the city of Milwaukee being addressed?” said Hamilton in what was guiding his decision on whether to run or not.
Which way is he leaning? He declined to say. Hamilton said he continues to meet with advisors to guide the next step. Sources inside City Hall point in both directions.
“Every single time we have to do these things [to setup funds and workforce development programs] when that’s just the way we should be doing business,” said Hamilton. “Why not make that permanent?”
The alderman has been one of the consistent advocates on the council for policies aimed at increasing racial equity and neighborhood investment.
Hamilton has in the past promised updates on whether he will run for mayor, but this one-week timeline is the most definitive announcement he’s given to date.
The most recent time Urban Milwaukee spoke to Hamilton about his potential campaign was moments before Mayor Tom Barrett received a phone call confirming that the city would host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The two potential opponents were seen celebrating as soon as Barrett got off the phone.
Barrett and Hamilton have a cordial relationship, with the two routinely working together even as the council has increasingly battled the mayor. And Barrett has yet to formally declare for another term, but continues to fundraise and is widely expected to quietly submit his declaration of candidacy form.
Meanwhile, Ald. Tony Zielinski continues his very public mayoral campaign. The Bay View alderman announced in November 2017 that he was entering the race and took the bold step of promising not to run for re-election as alderman. “It’s up or out,” said Zielinski.
If Hamilton is going to enter the race, he’s going to have to ramp up the fundraising. Barrett has raised $168,780 in 2019 through June 30th and has $811,074 on hand. Zielinski raised $124,275 and has $572,336 on hand, including a $300,000 personal loan. Hamilton raised $85,569, but has only $68,451 on hand. A fourth candidate, Paul Rasky, reports raising no funds.
Money might not be an issue for Hamilton, though. Not long after filing his nomination papers, Hamilton was spotted sitting courtside at a Milwaukee Bucks game with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele who has shown a willingness to spend heavily on local elections through an independent fund. The County Exec made sure the public knew who was at the game with him, posting a photo of himself, Hamilton, political consultant Scott Neitzel, a former cabinet member for Governor Scott Walker, and Abele’s now-fiancee Jennifer Gonda on Facebook with the caption: “Always great watching a Bucks game. Even better with people who love this city as much as I do! Go Bucks!”
The once strong relationship between Barrett and Abele is reported to have broken down over the negotiations surrounding the public funding for Fiserv Forum. Gonda, who was dating Abele at the time, led the negotiations for the city. Barrett also made the decision not to endorse Abele in his competitive 2016 re-election bid. Hamilton backed Abele and spoke at Abele’s inauguration.
All elections of City of Milwaukee offices are non-partisan. The two top vote-getters in a February 2020 primary will advance to the April 2020 general election.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
More about the 2020 Mayoral Race
- 9 Election Takeaways - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 19th, 2020
- 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