By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Democratic field for governor in Wisconsin is starting to become settled, as Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Tuesday he will not make a fourth bid for the office, while 10 others appear poised to run in the primary election scheduled for Aug. 14.
There is no clear front-runner among the candidates looking for a chance to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking a third term. Democrats say the large field shows there is optimism that Walker is vulnerable. Republicans say there isn’t a dominant candidate among them.
Barrett shook up the race in April when he said he was contemplating jumping into the race. If had started a campaign, it would have come as his fourth attempt at winning the governor’s office.
He ran and lost in the 2002 Democratic primary and was defeated by Walker in 2010 and in the 2012 recall election. But Barrett took no formal steps to run. Under pressure to submit by a deadline on Friday the 2,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot, Barrett made official what many had assumed would be the case: He’s out.
“I love my job as mayor and that’s where my heart is,” the 64-year-old Barrett said in a Facebook post Tuesday. “I hope to serve as mayor for many years to come, to continue to advance Milwaukee forward. I’ve still got the fire in the belly, and I wake up every day ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”
Also on Tuesday, the Wisconsin Democratic Party announced that 10 other Democrats had qualified to speak at the annual state party convention on Friday in Oshkosh.
The state party required the candidates to prove they had collected at least enough signatures to qualify for the ballot before giving them a speaking slot at the annual meeting, which will attract hundreds of party activists and donors. The deadline to file those signatures with the state is Friday, the same day the convention kicks off.
Those who qualified to speak include the current office holders state Superintendent Tony Evers; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma; and state Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire.
Also making the cut are former state Rep. Kelda Roys, of Madison; the political activist Mike McCabe; the businessmen and political newcomers Andy Gronik and Josh Pade; Mahlon Mitchell, head of the state firefighters union; and Matt Flynn, a former head of the state Democratic party.