The Contenders

All signs seem to point to Gov. Jim Doyle not seeking reelection in 2010, so I thought I’d take a look at a few of the possible Democratic contenders to succeed Gov. Doyle:

  • Lieutenant Governor Barb Lawton – There’s absolutely no doubt Lt. Gov. Lawton will run to succeed Gov. Doyle. According to campaign finance documents, Lt. Gov. Lawton ended the last reporting period with $50,904.18 case on hand, and once Gov. Doyle formally announces he’s not running, you can expect to see Lt. Gov. Lawton’s fundraising kick into overdrive. Lawton’s weaknesses – as I see them – are the fact that she can be tied to the Doyle administration, and as such she’ll likely face criticism for some of Gov. Doyle’s more unpopular moves as Governor. What’s more, Lawton hasn’t proven she can shine running a campaign of her own, so it will be interesting to see how she does when her campaign isn’t tied to Gov. Doyle’s.

  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett – Mayor Barrett ran for governor in 2002, finishing second to then-Attorney General Jim Doyle in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see Barrett throw his name into the ring for 2010. Barrett was reelected Mayor of Milwaukee in 2008 by the largest margin in 40+ years, and during his time as Milwaukee’s Mayor he’s shown he’s a capable administrator/”chief executive.”

  • Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk – Falk ran for governor in 2002, finishing third to Doyle and Barrett, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see her jump into the race again. However, Falk did lose a race (2006 Attorney General) that was very winnable, especially given the Democratic wave during the 2006 election cycle.

  • Representative Ron Kind – Though not a full-fledged “Blue Dog” Democrat, Rep. Kind is definitely a centrist Democrat, a fact that could aid him in the parts of Wisconsin that aren’t Milwaukee or Madison. However, I’m not sure how well known Rep. Kind is in the parts of the state that don’t include his Congressional district, and so he’d have to overcome that lack of name recognition in comparison to the other Democratic challengers.

One name not on my list, but who I’d love to see run for governor, is Sen. Herb Kohl. Kohl enjoys wide name recognition, fundraising wouldn’t be a problem (he could likely self-fund a gubernatorial run), and Sen. Kohl doesn’t face reelection until 2012. Besides, how fun would it be to see Sen. Kohl run against Scott Walker or Mark Neumann?


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8 thoughts on “The Contenders

  1. Senator Kohl is too old; I’ll be very surprised if he runs for re-election in 2012. Lawton’s biggest negatives are not that she is unproven and tied to the Doyle adminstration, but rather that she is perceived as too lefty to win the general, and many people who have had to interact with her as Lt. Gov. consider her a dingbat.

    Falk will be wasting her time and money if she runs again. Her time has past, and the only reason she won re-election as Dane County Exec this year is because her opponent was useless and unqualified. Falk’s presence in the primary, however, will also hurt Lawton, as they will split the pro-female-candidate (regardless of qualifications) vote.

    Barrett is a wild card. The party insiders love him (he won that three-way straw poll against Doyle and Falk in 2002), and he just got some positive press for intervening in that assault in the State Fair parking lot (getting injured in the process). Right now, I think he has the best shot at the Democratic nomination. A Barrett v. Walker general election would be all about what is wrong with Milwaukee and who is to blame. A Barrett v. Neumann general would focus on their respective voting records in Congress.

    I think Ron Kind is the most attractive general election candidate by far. However, he will be at a huge disadvantage in the primary, with a much larger turnout from Madison and Milwaukee likely. Also, his pro-business centrism will hurt him with the party faithful. If he gets some big endorsements, however, he could overcome the lack of name recognition.

  2. Jill, I’m inclined to believe Rep. Kind won’t run for governor. He strikes me as being content in Washington, and I could see him running to replace Sen. Kohl in 2012, if Sen. Kohl decides not to seek reelection.

  3. I am not a Candidate for Governor in 2010. If drafted, I will not accept.

    I remain the only Candidate for the Democratic Nomination for the United States Senate seat up in 2012.

  4. I’m sorry but Kohl? That would be a colossal mistake. I remember watching him in the Roberts confirmation hearings and it was just plain sad to see – he seemed unable to even read “his” prepared questions off the page, let alone actually ask follow-ups on the fly. And that was a couple of years ago. Talk about ineffectual. Wisconsin is facing some very serious challenges. The Herb Kohl that built up his business may well have been capable of doing something about them. The Herb Kohl of today, most certainly is not.

    1. Locke, I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I still think it’d be entertaining to see Sen. Kohl in a gubernatorial race against Scott Walker.

  5. Kohl? Really? How disconnected from reality are you.

    Kind has been laying the groundwork for a run for Governor for 6 months. He is in.

    1. John, I didn’t say I thought Sen. Kohl is likely to run; I merely said it would be fun to see Scott Walker v. Herb Kohl.

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