Vinehout takes steps toward gubernatorial campaign

  • Associated Press
  • December 4, 2013 - 1:10 PM

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — A Democratic primary in the Wisconsin governor's race looks more likely after state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout said this week that she had hired someone to organize a statewide campaign.

The Alma Democrat told The Leader-Telegram, of Eau Claire, ( ) on Tuesday that she won't make an official announcement about a gubernatorial run until January. But she said she had hired a campaign staffer.

"Every day I seem to be getting closer and closer to making the decision to run for governor because of the positive support I've found," Vinehout said.

Former state commerce secretary and ex-Trek Bicycle Corp. executive Mary Burke has been the only Democrat so far to announce a run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, who campaigned with Burke last weekend in northwestern Wisconsin, expressed concern that a primary with a second candidate could hurt the party's chances in the general election.

"How anybody thinks it would be wise for us to use the next seven months for a contest within a party rather than having a unified contest with Walker is beyond me," Obey told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week.

Vinehout said she's mostly amused by efforts to dissuade her from running.

One concern among some Democrats has been Vinehout's ability to raise enough money to compete with Walker. She raised $14,635 in the first half of the year and had $10,541 on hand as of June 30, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the state Government Accountability Board. Walker raised $3.5 million and had $2.2 million on hand.

Unlike Vinehout, Burke has a considerable personal fortune that she could invest in the race.

But Eau Claire County Democratic Party Chairwoman Beverly Wickstrom noted that statewide races have been won with limited budgets in the past.

"It's always exciting to have a couple of talented women in a race as high profile as a campaign for governor," said Wickstrom, who would have to be neutral in a primary.

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