MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The already large field of Democratic candidates for governor grew by one on Tuesday, while Milwaukee mayor and three-time former nominee Tom Barrett was also reportedly considering giving it a fourth try.
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 announced Democratic candidates, including nine who are actively raising money and have hired campaign staff. The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will advance to face Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.
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Barrett, who lost the Democratic primary in 2002 and then lost to Walker in the 2010 general election and the 2012 recall, was talking with advisers about another run, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported citing unnamed sources.
Barrett did not immediately return messages left with his office seeking comment. Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the state GOP, said Barrett’s reported mulling of the race was evidence of a struggling Democratic field.
There is no clear front-runner on the Democratic side, fueling interest among others to get in and concern 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 communicate directly with voters as he’s done since the Devil’s Advocates show started. In addition to owning the station and co-hosting the show, Crute also owns a property management firm based 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 that the state Supreme Court shut down in 2015. Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has recommended that Falk be found in contempt for allegedly violating secrecy orders in place during the investigation.
Falk joined Crute on his radio show to discuss the campaign 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; statewide firefighter union leader Mahlon Mitchell; former state party Chairman Matt Flynn and political activist Mike McCabe.
Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP