State Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, announced his candidacy for Milwaukee County executive Monday, challenging incumbent Chris Abele.
Larson, who has served as Milwaukee County supervisor and Senate minority leader, said that Abele has not addressed the needs of county residents and that he is running to “take the office back for the middle class.”
"I'm running for county executive, because we need to restore power to the people," Larson said at his childhood home in Greenfield. "It is clear that Milwaukee County is heading in the wrong direction."
Larson has a history of taking on incumbents from his own party, earning election to the state Senate by defeating two-term state Sen. Jeff Plale in 2010.
The 34-year-old has already earned one high-profile endorsement in U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., who represents the area.
Moore said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Abele has not helped the area’s impoverished communities, calling him a “benevolent dictator.”
"I've been very, very disappointed that Chris Abele has really not met my expectations in terms of providing these [social] services and doing it in a democratic way," Moore said.
Abele brushed aside the announcement in a statement, saying he welcomed Larson’s candidacy and touted his own economic reforms.
“I'm a firm believer more democracy and people engaging in our government is a good thing,” Abele said in the statement. “I look forward to the added opportunity to talk with voters about how we're turning the corner in Milwaukee County and getting our fiscal house in order after years of uncertainty and mismanagement prior to my taking office.”
Abele is in his second term as county executive, having succeeded now Gov. Scott Walker in 2011.
A Feb. 16 primary election will narrow the field to two candidates, with the general election in April.