Monday, August 17, 2009

Doyle's out - who's stepping in?

It's official: Jim Doyle will not seek a 3rd term as governor of Wisconsin. He even promised not "to go Brett Farve" on us and change his mind at some point over the remaining year-and-a-half of his second term. Which is good of him. I'm not sure the state could take any more jerking around by major public figures. Doyle probably can't throw a touchdown pass to save his life, but still, the principal is the same.

This leaves several questions floating in the air, the most obvious of which is which Democrats will step in to run now that Doyle is out?

There's been a lot of speculation about current Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton jumping into the fray, especially since she's been making public moves to distance herself from Doyle's policies in recent weeks. Lawton has long been seen as more liberal, so those sorts of decisions would certainly play well to the left-leaning citizens tired of Doyle (I, for one, will be glad to not have him making speeches at various state events anymore--the man's oration skills are cringe-worthy).

Also proposed as a possible candidate is Rep. Ron Kind, who's a moderate-but-not-Blue-Dog Democrat from the western chunk of the state. He might be good, but some have (rightfully, I suspect) suggested that Kind may be looking instead to inhabit Sen. Herb Kohl's seat at some point in the future. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's name has also been thrown into the ring, especially after his very recent turn as public hero earned him some seriously good press.

Normally I'd say that mayors don't have the best chance of winning a governorship, solely because of a lack of statewide visibility, but the Barrett incident may well change things for him. Hard to say for sure.

Whoever ends up being the Dem's candidate, I just hope they'll give the Republican challengers a good run for their money. I am not a fan, to say the least, of either Milwaukee County Supervisor Scott "Can't Take Care of His Own County Let Alone A Whole State" Walker or Mark Neumann (currently the top two GOP contenders).

And then, what will Doyle do with the $2 million in campaign contribution's he's collected? It's not exactly chump change. One hopes he'd use it to support whoever runs in his stead, whether by returning it to donors so they can then give it to that person, or by making (within legal limits) donations of his own.

One thing that has the potential to be very interesting is what Doyle does in his final months as governor. Since he's not campaigning and trying to win more wide-ranging votes, will he step up and pass more contentious legislation? What will his focus be? He has the potential for becoming a lame duck, sure, but there's always a chance that Doyle will surprise us. Whether it's a good or bad shock, of course, remains to be seen.

UPDATE: And awaaaay we go! An aide to Lt. Gov. Lawton says she does intend to run.


Anonymous said...

Falk must be drooling as she attempted to follow the same path as JD. The field is open but the best thing for Wisconsins future, non-partisan requires anyone from outside Madison who can see beyond the beltline. Not too many of those on the list fit that requirement.

Jesse said...

I'm not sure he can become a lame duck, because he has done reasonably well this final term. Minimum wage, check. Smoking ban, check. Domestic Partner benefits, check. Start of rail investment, check. Killed film incentives, check. He could definitely do more, but he can pretty much sit back and ride out the next year.

Emily said...

Anon - I honestly hope Falk doesn't run. She's got waaaay too much baggage.

Jesse - He has done a lot, but I'm speculating more about the period of time from his announcement that he will not seek reelection until the end of his term. Could be interesting.

The Lost Albatross