• WisPolitics


Friday, March 30, 2012

 9:24 PM 

Barrett says announcing guv run before Tuesday's mayoral election shows voters his honesty

Tom Barrett said his decision to announce his bid for guv ahead of his mayoral re-election next week proves he'll be straight with voters and stands in sharp contrast to how Gov. Scott Walker "dropped the bomb" on public employees in stripping away their collective bargaining powers.

Barrett, who announced his guv bid Friday afternoon, told WisPolitics.com in an interview his decision may affect how people vote in Tuesday's mayoral election, but "I felt I had to be honest with them."

In contrast, he said, Walker hid his intentions to end most collective bargaining powers for public employees during their 2010 guv campaign.

"It really also sends a strong signal that I want to be honest with the people I serve," Barrett said.

Barrett, who lost to Walker in 2010, accused the guv of starting an ideological war in the state and slammed him for Wisconsin losing more jobs in 2011 than any other state.

"That to me really sealed the deal that we have to have new leadership," he said.

Barrett said he was also offended that Walker decided to use some money from a national settlement over the mortgage crisis to balance the state budget rather than helping homeowners.

Earlier Friday, Walker's campaign slammed Barrett for increasing taxes by $48 million, hiking city spending by $338 million and watching Milwaukee's unemployment rate increase by 27 percent.

"Tom Barrett's record of failed leadership as mayor of Milwaukee has twice been rejected by Wisconsin voters," Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said.

The RGA Friday also started its second spot slamming Barrett's record. The mayor said the first ad from the group persuaded him that Republicans wanted him to stay out of the race because they feared him getting in.

But first up is a Dem primary with former Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk, Secretary of State Doug La Follette and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout.

Barrett declined to detail how he plans to contrast himself with Falk, who announced for the race shortly after recall petitions were turned in and has wrapped up a series of union endorsements. But he did say he would not make any pledges about restoring collective bargaining through the state budget, saying the document impacted too many other areas of government to make such a promise. Falk has been criticized by some for vowing to veto any budget that did not include the restoration of those powers for public employees.

Barrett also shrugged off the union endorsements Falk has, saying "what's great about the state of Wisconsin is it's the voters" that choose the candidates.

"All the candidates on the Democratic side are friends of mine, and we will continue to be friends," Barrett said.

"My message is really about Scott Walker and his failed leadership."

Critics contend Barrett only got into the 2010 guv's race after the White House pushed him to run.

Barrett said he did not speak with the president or anyone from the White House ahead of his decision and does not expect Barack Obama to campaign for him in Wisconsin.

"I fully expect that the president and his team will be focused on his re-election, as it should be," Barrett said.

Listen to the full interview

-- By JR Ross

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