The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Barrett formally announces bid for governor

Opponents were quick to draw battle lines, labeling the Milwaukee mayor “Tom the Taxer”

BarrettNow that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has announced his candidacy for governor, political observers are preparing for what could be an all-Milwaukee gubernatorial race between Barrett and County Executive Scott Walker.

Following months of Favre-like indecision, Barrett announced from his front lawn Sunday his intention to run for governor.

The two sides quickly started drawing battle lines. Within hours of Barrett’s announcement, Walker and other state Republicans had already labeled Barrett, “Tom the Taxer.”

In a statement, Walker’s campaign manager Keith Gilkes said, “Barrett has been for big spending and big taxes at every step of his career.”

Barrett voted for the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act in 1993 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill raised income tax rates to 36 and 39.6 percent for individuals at the top two brackets of the federal income tax scale, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.

Barrett has also increased the property tax levy in each of his years as Milwaukee mayor, including a 4.4 percent increase in the property tax levy for 2010.

The new nickname may not be completely appropriate, however, given Barrett’s ability to balance the city budget while maintaining city services, said Janet Boles, professor emerita of political science.

Barrett’s financial policies have also received commendation from the Public Policy Forum, which reported in August that the city’s government has been fiscally responsible in the face of the current recession.

“We want the taxes we pay to be collected fairly and spent frugally,” Barrett said during his announcement Sunday.

Walker has been running on a no-new-taxes platform, pointing to his eight consecutive Milwaukee County budgets that have not included an increase in the property tax levy.

The County Board of Supervisors has often overridden Walker’s vetoes in order to pass county budgets, Boles said.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin chairman Mike Tate was unavailable for comment Monday, but released a statement Sunday regarding Barrett’s decision to run for governor.

“We look forward to having a great public figure on the campaign trail with the record of a true reformist,” Tate said in the statement.

Boles said Barrett will have to be careful in establishing a relationship with Gov. Jim Doyle, who has faced low public approval ratings as his term as governor closes.

“There’s not much to motivate Barrett to run as Doyle’s successor,” she said.

However, the current governor does have campaign money he can choose to give to other candidates, and Barrett doesn’t want to risk those campaign dollars by alienating Doyle, Boles said.

In addition, there is some uncertainty as to where Barrett will spend the majority of his time, both during his campaign and if he were to win the general election next November.

Boles said there will be challenges for Barrett balancing his time between city hall and campaigning. But the name recognition he received as a result of his beating at State Fair Park over the summer will help him overcome some of that, she said.

During his announcement Sunday, Barrett himself seemed prepared for the challenges ahead.

“I am running for governor because we can build a strong economy … and create a great future for ourselves and our children,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *