1. Mary Burke is in for Gov. No real surprise here, since Burke's name had been floated by insiders for months, and that she had been working behind the scenes. She's even got her own little bio to introduce yourself to her.
I'm a bit skeptical of a Burke candidacy, but it's more because of a perception that DPW Chair Mike Tate has been trying to promote her candidacy behind the scenes and push other candidates out of the race. Unlike most blogging types in this state, I've actually seen Mary Burke in a public job, at a candidate forum when she ran for Madison School Board in 2012, and I liked what I heard, as she clearly understands that poverty is the key predictor of student achievement). She also does favor union and school board control of charter schools (a key concern I'd have), although she's not as good on teacher unions and pay as I'd like.
But while Burke is knowledgeable on economic issues and education, she also comes off as very milquetoast, and I have my doubts on how head-on she'll be willing to take on the failed Walker Administration, which she will need to do if she is to win. She also needs to step out, define what she stands for more (or else the right-wing lie machine will do it for her), and MEET WITH THE VOTERS. It seems that the Dem grassroots was the one DPW group Burke hasn't spent a lot of time with, and that'll have to change if she is to get my support in August 2014. I'm keeping an open mind on Burke, and anything's better than Walker in November 2014 (and I will vehemently support the Dem opponent), but I also am looking for more at this point from the Dems' candidate. Maybe Burke will bring it, or maybe someone else will (see below)
2. JB Van Hollen is OUT for Attorney General. This announcement surprised me, and I don't think it was because this partisan hack wanted to rain on Mary Burke's parade. There's something going on here, but I can't figure out what it is. Is Van Hollen scared of some kind of TeaBag challenge (hilarious because Van Hollen has covered for pretty much every sickening Walker agenda item, including his recent defense of ALEC and Leah Vukmir against open records requests), or is it because he knows something's about to come down and he doesn't want to have to face the voters as it happens? One Wisconsin Now has been all over Van Hollen asking for an investigation into the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin shenanigans, and Van Hollen doing nothing in that fiasco would look like an obvious cover-up. Maybe he will do something, and not running keeps the Sykesists and other GOP dimwits from primarying him out of office next August (I kid...kinda).
And what is Van Hollen's future endgame with this move? He's got a political future, but if you're a GOP, things are kind of blocked in the next year. There's no Senate race in 2014 and Ron Johnson is the incumbent for 2016. If Walker does run for governor, DB-VH certainly won't run there. Is he waiting for 2018, when Tammy Baldwin would be up for re-election in the Senate and it would be unlikely that Walker would be in the picture for Governor then (either because Walker lost in 2014, or he'd be on the verge of leaving for "real money")? And perhaps 2018 is enough of a break to allow Van Hollen to resurface from the ashes if WisGOP does get their ass kicked in 2014 (not out of the realm of possibility, especially with the Republican brand going into the toilet due to DC Baggers and Walker's failures). The A-G jockeying for both parties might be more interesting than the Guv doings in the next few months.
3. Who else gets in? For Guv, I am fairly certain Mary Burke will not be the only major candidate. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has been making all the indications of someone going for the guv job, and has been actively going to several meet-and-greets and other types of fundraisers outside of her Western Wisconsin district. The Vinehout campaign release sure sounded like someone who wasn't backing off going for the gold.
I wish Mary Burke the best. Politics is fun, exhilarating and important. Running for office is a great education. Everybody should do it at least once.I've made no secret about being a big Vinehout fan- how can I not like a candidate who writes weekly wonky blogs? And she exposes GOP BS in places that many don't look, like when Vinehout humiliated State Sen. Alberta Darling in a Senate Education Committee meeting on charter schools last week, showing how SB 76 removes local control of charters, and funnels money away from public schools.
If Vinehout officially gets in the guv's race (she's said she won't announce till after January, though the Burke announcement might make her want to speed that up), the Dem primary will be festive and have a positive energy and type of debate that I think would help whoever came out of that August election, both in name recognition, and in making that candidate more battle-tested.
There's plenty of time between now and August, but with today's developments, that August election is all of a sudden looking like an election that will have plenty in play. And it feels like a lot of other developments will hit in the meantime in Wisconsin- both before and after the Baggers finish having their temper-tantrum in DC.