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.