Doyle's Very Special Announcement

Aug. 15, 2009
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“Governor Jim Doyle will make a special announcement to the people of Wisconsin tomorrow, Monday, August 17, 2009 at 11:00 a.m.,” reads the press advisory from the governor’s office.

But we all know what he’s going to announce, or at least some of what he’ll announce: he’s not going to run for re-election in 2010.

I had a weird feeling about this even though all signs from the governor—or most signs from the governor—seemed to say that he’d run again. That seemed to be confirmed when he didn’t get the job as head of the Peace Corps. Rumors swirled that he’d get it, and when he didn’t, running for re-election seemed like a logical Plan B for a guy who’d held statewide office for 20 years.

But last week, when researching Doyle's plans to allow Mayor Barrett to take over the Milwaukee Public Schools, a source told me that it indicated he wouldn't run again, because issue was too divisive for Democrats—especially Milwaukee Democrats—for Doyle to take it on when he would need a mountain of votes from the city to beat any Republican in 2010. When I thought about it later, I had to admit that theory made a lot of sense.

Add to that his flagging poll numbers—and I’m going to assume he’s been polling on his own as well as relying on public polls—his tough stance on Milwaukee issues during the budget, PR problems, and the general anti-incumbent mood around the country, and I’m not surprised that he’s not going to run again.

Potential candidates are rumored, most obviously Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse. State Rep. Jon Erpenbach and Mayor Tom Barrett (get well soon!) have been said to be in contention. Other contenders could be state Sen. Russ Decker, the current Senate Majority Leader, and Kathleen Falk, the Dane County Executive. Both are known names around the state and could draw on traditional Democratic voters and pull in independents as well.

So we’ll see what Doyle has to say tomorrow. But one thing we do know is that the next 15 months are going to very interesting for state Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. Bring on the primaries!


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