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Already large Democratic field for governor getting bigger

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The already large number of Democratic candidates for governor increased by one on Tuesday, even as Milwaukee mayor and three-time former nominee Tom Barrett was also reported to be considering running for a fourth time.

The liberal talk-radio host Mike Crute announced on his Devil’s Advocates radio show that he intended to run, saying anyone who doesn’t take him seriously does so “at their own peril.” Crute has used the show to promote liberal causes and give a platform to Democratic candidates and office holders since its debut in 2012.

“You’ve never seen bold like I’m about to bring down on the state of Wisconsin,” Crute said. His campaign slogan is “We’re all Badgers.”

He joins 15 other Democratic candidates, including nine who are raising money and have hired campaign staff workers. The winner of the primary election on Aug. 14 will face Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, in November.

Barrett, who lost the Democratic primary in 2002 and then lost to Walker in the 2010 general election and the 2012 recall election, was talking to advisers about another run, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, citing unnamed sources.

Barrett did not immediately return messages left at his office. Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the state GOP, said Barrett’s reported mulling of the race was evidence that Democrats are having trouble deciding who the nominee should be.

There is no clear front-runner on the Democratic side, piquing the interest of possible candidates and raising concerns among some liberals that the fractured field will be a liability. Some donors are also sitting out the primary.

Crute cited the fractured Democratic field as a reason to get in. The Journal Sentinel said Barrett was sounding out his advisers because he was concerned about the quality of the Democratic field.

Candidates have until June 1 to file the required signatures to get on the ballot.

Crute said he would use the radio station he purchased in 2017, WRRD-AM in Waukesha, to talk directly to voters as he’s done since the Devil’s Advocates show started. Beyond owning the station and serving as a host on the show, Crute owns a property management firm in Middleton.

Crute said he hired Shane Falk, a former attorney at the now-disbanded Government Accountability Board, to advise his campaign.

Falk has drawn the ire of Republicans because of his work on the secret John Doe investigation into Walker and Republicans. The state Supreme Court shut down that probe in 2015. Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican, has recommended that Falk be found in contempt over allegations that he violated secrecy orders that were in place during the investigation.

Falk joined Crute on his radio show to discuss the campaign on Tuesday.

Other Democrats running include state Superintendent Tony Evers; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma; state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire; former state Rep. Kelda Roys of Madison; Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik; firefighter-union leader Mahlon Mitchell; former state party Chairman Matt Flynn and political activist Mike McCabe.

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