Wisconsin Democrats Hint At Future Races


No one announced plans to run for governor at the state Democratic Party’s annual convention over the weekend.

One Democrat, however, ruled it out and another hinted he’s more interested in running for the U.S. Senate.

State Democratic Party Chair Mike Tate told convention-goers that it would do the party no good to give Republican Governor Scott Walker a target to shoot at any sooner than they had to. Tate told Democrats that a successful candidate would, however, emerge in time.

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“It may be one of our talented political leaders. It may be that we’ll see a candidate emerge from the private sector. Someone with a great Wisconsin story to tell. Someone who actually knows what it means to create jobs and build a successful business from the ground up.”

One thing’s for sure – it won’t be La Crosse Democrat and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind. While Kind has been critical of Walker’s economic record lately, he ruled out a challenge: “I just don’t see a path where Ron Kind would be a candidate for governor next year.”

Others were coy. Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca said he had not made any specific plans. State Firefighters Union President Mahlon Mitchell, who was formerly a candidate for lieutenant governor, said he was considering it.

Former Sen. Russ Feingold ruled out a run in his convention speech, but he did it in a way that had the audience cheering:

“I don’t come to you tonight as an officeholder. I don’t come to you tonight as a candidate – at least not in 2013, 2014 or 2015.”

Feingold did not mention 2016, which is when Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is up for reelection. That would set up a rematch of their 2010 contest, but under friendlier conditions for Democrats. Unlike 2010, 2016 will include a presidential election, when high turnout usually works in Democrats’ favor.