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Democrat Matt Flynn Running For Governor

Former Chair Of Wisconsin's Democratic Party Says He Has The Best Chance Of Beating Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin state Capitol
Laura Zimmerman/WPR

Former state Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn says he’s running for governor in 2018, calling himself the candidate with the best shot of beating Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Flynn, who made his announcement official Tuesday, said he respects all of the Democrats running for governor, but he said the most important question for voters is who could win in November.

Photo courtesy Mike Flynn

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“I know how to handle myself,” said Flynn, a retired Milwaukee attorney. “I think that by training and demeanor and experience, I’m the best able to prosecute the case against Scott Walker.”

Flynn said that if elected, he would work to restore union bargaining rights for public employees, restore the state’s prevailing wage laws for construction projects and repeal Wisconsin’s so-called “right-to-work” law. All three moves would mark reversals of policies enacted by Walker and his fellow Republicans in the state Legislature.

“They simply are shifting the wealth of public assets from wages and from the average person to their donors,” Flynn said. “I’m not going to stand for that.”

He said he’d also prioritize funding for public schools and for the University of Wisconsin System, and restore tenure in state law for UW professors.

“I just can’t tolerate his attacks on the University of Wisconsin,” Flynn said of Walker. “I would travel the country to recruit for the University of Wisconsin, not to insult it.”

Flynn said Walker’s administration had also weakened the state Department of Natural Resources, endangering drinking water, wetlands and streams in the process.

Flynn chaired the Democratic Party of Wisconsin from 1981 to 1985. He ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1986 and 1988 and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978 and 2004.

Flynn joins an already crowded field of Democrats hoping to defeat Walker. That list includes State Superintendent Tony Evers, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout and state Rep. Dana Wachs.

Republicans seized on Flynn’s past work as a lawyer defending the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

“Matt Flynn is a dirty defense attorney who has built a career on defending special interests and those who prey on Wisconsin families,” said Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Walker, who has yet to formally announce his re-election bid, has been campaigning aggressively, reporting raising $3.5 million in the first half of 2017.