Last week’s announcement from U.S. Representative Ron Kind, that he won’t seek the Democratic nomination to succeed Jim Doyle as Wisconsin’s governor, leaves Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton as the party’s only declared candidate. But most observers expect that to change.

“You need a competitive race on the Democratic side . . . for the nominee to get well known in the state, to actually be vetted in a campaign,” said UW Madison political scientist Charles Franklin.

AUDIO: Charles Franklin (:16 MP3)

Speculation now turns on whether Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will enter the race. “The number of potentially high profile Democrats who are sort of waiting in the wings is getting smaller, certainly,” said UW political scientist Dave Canon. “I think that there will be some people putting pressure on Tom Barrett.”

AUDIO: David Canon (:15 MP3)  

Might one of those people be Governor Doyle? Asked last week to comment on whether or not Democrats will have a good candidate next year, Doyle did not mention Lawton, but did comment on Barrett, who he said “would be a very good candidate.” Doyle said, while he has spoken to Barret about the possibility of a campaign, the final decision rests with the mayor.

AUDIO: Governor Jim Doyle (:22 MP3) 

The UW’s Franklin expects someone to challenge Lawton. “If it did happen that there were only one (Democratic) candidate – Lieutenant Governor Lawton – the news in the campaign of the fall would be all about the Republican primary.

AUDIO: Charles Franklin (:15 MP3)

On the Republican side, Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former congressman Mark Neumann are the best known candidates.

WIBA’s John Colbert contributed to this report

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