On the Democratic side, there are two main candidates. One, of course is Tom Barrett, the Mayor of the City of Milwaukee. The other is Tim John.
It is pretty safe to assume that Barrett will overwhelming win this primary. He has the support of the Democratic Party and has been getting all of the media attention. Barrett's record as mayor has been decent. He brought in Ed Flynn to head the police department and crime is down. His budgets have been balanced and he showed true leadership in a crisis, like this summer's floods.
On the downside, some people will criticize him for raising taxes, but these are the usual suspects that feel they should receive services like snow plowing or police protection without having to actually pay for them.
His primary opponent, Tim John, seems to be an affable fellow, and did raise the important issue of the intolerably high level of unemployment of African American men in Milwaukee. However, outside of that one issue, it was hard to take his campaign seriously. He tried to make one of his issues the sale of unpasteurized milk. Outside of some dairy farmers and those that want to drink the raw milk, it was not a big point among most Wisconsinites. To make it even more irrelevant, Governor Doyle resolved the issue during the year, making it a non-issue.
The Republican gubernatorial primary is most definitely the most heated in the state, and for yours truly, the most fun to watch.
On one hand, you have the party-anointed boy king, Scott Walker. Walker ran in 2006, but dropped out of the race when the party support went to Mark Green. But he never stopped campaigning, and spent the next four years making the circuit, attending functions and using his bogus bike ride to keep his name out there. Because of this, the party arbitrarily appointed him as their great hope.
His opponent, Mark Neumann, was a U.S. Congressman until he left that seat to run against Russ Feingold. He lost that race, but only barely. After that, he went on to run a successful home building business and started three private schools.
This race is too close to call, despite what the party faithful would have you to believe. If Walker wins the primary, the Republicans lose the advantage of having a non-Milwaukeean running against the mayor of Milwaukee. Walker also has a lot of baggage to carry all the way to the finish line that makes him an easy target for the Democrats. Some of Walker's baggage includes, but is in no way limited to:
- The O'Donnell Park tragedy, where a concrete facade fell and killed a teenage boy and left a woman with a life-altering injury.
- The mental health complex, where years of budget cuts and staffing shortages allowed the facility to become run down and unsafe. Even more alarming is the fact that poor management and short staffing allowed female patients to be repeatedly sexually assaulted, ending up in at least one pregnancy.
- Walker's poor management forced the state to take over the Income Maintenance Program, spreading another Milwaukee County burden among all of the state's tax payers.
- Walker's inability to create jobs allowed the Private Industry Council to be moved from the County's control to the City of Milwaukee.
- Walker's budget cuts to the transit system has cost up to 40,000 people losing access to their jobs.
- Walker's current budget is deep in the hole, and that hole is only getting deeper.
- The multiple gaffes committed by his campaign, including racially-tainted tweets, insensitivity to the victims of the O'Donnell Park tragedy, and being found to be lying in his commercials
- A $400 million debt in the form of pension obligation bonds, which still doesn't cover the shortfall the county faces.
However, due to having the party support, Walker will most likely have a much more effective GOTV system, which gives him that edge, but it is questionable whether even that will be sufficient to make up for all of Walker's deficiencies.
In a way, I hope that Walker wins. It will make it easier for Barrett to win the governorship. It will also give this lowly site a few more weeks to enjoy some mild popularity. On the other hand, I don't know if Milwaukee County, its tax payers, or its most vulnerable citizens can afford, much less survive, much more of his campaign stunts and poor management.