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On Tom Barrett

November 17, 2009

He’s running for Governer now.

So I was wrong in my speculation that Tom Barrett wouldn’t run for Governor. On Sunday, however he proved me wrong saying:

“I’m running because I love my family. I love this state. And I’m concerned about its future,” Barrett said.

He said he deferred his decision until he was sufficiently recovered from an assault three months ago that left him with head and mouth injuries and a severely damaged right hand.

“At that point in time I was not thinking about running for governor,” he said. “I was hurt.”

Scott Walker reacted to Barrett’s announcement here, already taking aim at his history of raising taxes.

Tom’s a good guy obviously, I’ve worked with him before, but this is clearly going to be an election that’s based on issues. And the facts clearly show that Tom spent his entire career in the legislature, and now as the mayor of Milwaukee raising taxes. I’ve spend my entire career fighting taxes…This year in the budget I’ve had no tax increase, no property tax increases, and still maintained core services. Tom Barrett once again for every year he’s been in office raises property taxes this year 4%.”

Mark Jefferson, Executive Director of RPW said:

In Scott Walker and Mark Neumann, you have two individuals who have held the line on tax increases, who have really worked hard for government accountability, and in Tom Barrett you have someone with a long history of raising taxes.

Scott Walker’s campaign and the Republican Party of Wisconsin are already attacking Barrett calling him Tom the Taxer for his budget increases. WisGOP has even put out a youtube commercial highlighting Barrett’s tax and spend attitude, which even goes back to his days in the US Congress. You can even look at a side by side comparison between the budgets of Walker and Barrett.

Now here’s my biggest question: Does Tom Barrett actually want to be Governor? Or is he doing this just to appease Wisconsin and National Democrats by running a competitive but losing campaign so he doesn’t have be bothered by democrats to ever run outside of Milwaukee Mayor ever again? Barrett really doesn’t seem like he has the desire to campaign for a year or move to Madison to govern. I’m convinced that Barrett, knowing the momentum, grassroots operation and money Walker has, political climate in the state of Wisconsin, the political situation Republicans are in nationally and Barrett’s general excitement about the race he’s content to give Walker (Or Neumann?) a mild challenge with the goal of losing by less that 6%. He’s not down to far in terms of money when compared to Walker. Walker has over $1m banked and Barrett has $800k in his campaign account. Neumann, who hasn’t filed campaign contributions yet is assumed to be in a distant third. But money doesn’t match votes and Barrett will still have to do a lot of campaigning to make up for his “will he/won’t he” time, which Walker has capitalized on.

However Barrett joining the race may play well for the former Republican congressman.  Considering that both Walker and Barrett are from Milwaukee, Neumann could gain votes from people in the western and northern part of the state that are part of the ‘anti-Milwaukee’ crowd. I’m not sure how many votes will shift that way but it could be surprising. , It’s going to be incredibly tough for Tom Barrett going up to Rheinlander or out to Plattville to convince people that what they need is more Democrat governing, especially from a Milwaukee guy. It’ll only be tougher if/when the dust settles on the democrat primary for lieutenant governor and it turns out that both democrat candidates are from the Milwaukee Area.

There is one thing that may make this race more tolerable. Both Walker and Barrett come off as real, genuine clean cut all around good guys who are tolerated by their opposition.  Neither of them seem to have any skeletons or shady backgrounds that could be attacked. Barrett does face the problem on attacks from the left. Apparently Barrett is too moderate for the liking of some dems, and they fear that he’ll abandon the base that has elected him forever (Even though there has been speculation that he’ll pull a Blago and govern outside the Capitol. Maybe this campaign will be about issues, how each candidate intends to improve the economic climate in the state of Wisconsin and could stray away from personal attacks. Probably not…

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