State News

Prominent Democrats decline to run against Walker in 2018, some citing funding challenges

A number of state Democrats have declined to challenge Wisconsin’s current governor, Scott Walker, in 2018.

Image By: Thomas Yonash

A well-known former state senator recently announced he will not challenge Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin’s 2018 election, making him the most recent of a number of state Democrats who have already ruled out a gubernatorial run.

Former state Sen. Timothy Cullen announced Wednesday he would not enter the race, fearing he would not be able to raise the money to mount a successful challenge. He called the prominence of money in politics “a very sad commentary on the state of democracy and elections in Wisconsin.”

Cullen, who had announced in 2016 he was considering joining the race, is part of a trend of Democrats who seem hesitant to challenge Walker.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., a moderate Democrat from the western part of the state who was widely considered a top choice for Democrats, announced in March that he would not run. State Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, state Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, among a number of others, also said they have no plans to seek the governor’s office.

Walker is expected to bring in a large fundraising haul, which may be deterring Democrats from jumping into the race. The governor raised $35 million in his 2014 re-election campaign against Democratic challenger Mary Burke, who only raised $12 million.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, have both said they will decide soon whether to mount a gubernatorial challenge. Political experts have floated Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, state Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, and the UW-Madison campus area’s state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, as potential candidates as well.

The only Democrat who has announced his candidacy thus far is Bob Harlow, a young Stanford graduate and Wisconsin native who earned 7.4 percent of the vote in a primary election for a U.S. House of Representatives seat in California in 2016.

Still, leading Democrats in the state Legislature have said they are confident they will find a candidate who can beat Walker in 2018.

The gubernatorial general election will be held Nov. 6, 2018. 

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