Democrat Challenges Wisconsin's Walker for Governor

Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and state Commerce secretary, ended months of speculation Monday by announcing in a web video that she is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Scott Walker.
October 8, 2013
 

Mary Burke, a former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive and state Commerce secretary, ended months of speculation Monday by announcing in a web video that she is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Scott Walker.

Burke, who becomes the instant Democratic primary favorite, emphasizes her business background and Wisconsin roots in the three-minute video. As a millionaire, she brings substantial personal money to the race, giving her a leg up in fundraising that delights many Democrats but also provides a potential critique for Republicans.

"Helping to turn my family's business into a global company has been a big part of my life," she says. "Now I'd like to help make our great state of Wisconsin even better as your governor."

The announcement by Burke came on the same day that state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he wouldn't run for a third term next year, putting some spark in next year's elections.

"It makes Wisconsin move up a little on the political awareness level nationally," U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), seen as one of his party's best political strategists, said Monday.

In the video, Burke doesn't mention Walker by name but says it's time for change in Madison. A spokesman for Burke didn't immediately respond to a request for an interview.

"Just like Washington, our state capital has become so focused on politics and winning the next political fight, it's pulling our state apart and our economy down," she says.

Burke has run only one political race — a successful campaign last year for the Madison school board — but was named by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle in 2005 to serve in his cabinet as his point person on economic development.

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