A Wisconsin congressman says he won’t be running for governor. Ending weeks of speculation on whether or not he’d make a bid to succeed Governor Jim Doyle, Representative Ron Kind says he’s decided to keep his focus on another job: health care reform.
Audio: Kind conference call with reporters (7:30 MP3)
“The fact that I’m in the middle of these intense negotiations right now, tells me I’ve got a primary responsibility to do this job well,” says the La Crosse Democrat, who’s a member of the key House Ways and Means Committee. Kind says he was not pressured by his party to run for governor. “No not at all. It wasn’t about politics, it wasn’t about safe seat or not a safe seat. This was a personal decision,” says Kind, who was first elected to the Third Congressional District seat in 1996.
Kind expects his decision will result in a lot of encouragement directed at Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who hasn’t made an announcement yet. “I think a lot of people have great respect and admiration for him,” says Kind, who served with Barrett in the House. So far, Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton is the only announced Democratic candidate to succeed Doyle. On the Republican, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former congressman Mark Neumann are running.
Political observers say Kind faces one of his strongest Republican challengers ever in his campaign to retain his House seat in 2010, in Republican state Senator Dan Kapanke.