Even after Governor Jim Doyle dropped out, the race for Wisconsin governor generated plenty of surprises in 2009. “It’s interesting because of the personal stories of that, as well as for the way it shapes the political story that will run throughout 2010,” says UW political scientist Charles Franklin of the Democrats’ race for governor, which generated headlines as early as August, when Governor Jim Doyle stunned most observers by announcing he would not seek a third term. “You’d have to say the way the governor’s race has shaped up, both with Governor Doyle deciding not to run, and then the Democrats’ difficulty in keeping candidates in the race,” provided plenty for observers of state politics to talk about,” says Franklin.
Lots more headlines were generated by Governor Jim Doyle’s lack of enthusiasm, for the candidacy of Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton. “I think what Doyle’s lack of enthusiasm reflected was that Lawton didn’t have broad support throughout the party,” says Franklin. He adds that Lawton’s decision to drop out of the race for governor, citing “very personal reasons” still has people wondering. “A more common kind of answer is ‘I want to spend more time with my family,’ and it’s dropped at that point. Her use of the phrase ‘very personal reasons’ just invited speculation.” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett rode to the rescue of the Democratic party after Lawton’s October surprise, announcing his decision to enter the race in mid-November.
On the Republican side, Franklin notes that while Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker is the presumed front-runner, former congressman Mark Neumann is still challenging him for the GOP nomination.
Bob Hague (:60) AUDIO: Bob Hague reports (:60 MP3)