How endorsements could impact Milwaukee mayoral race

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- For the first time in nearly two decades, Tom Barrett will not be a name voters in Milwaukee will see on the ballot for mayor, giving a field of seven candidates the opportunity to take the office.

An internal poll from Cavalier Johnson's campaign showed the acting mayor ahead of his opponents which include Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, former alderman Bob Donovan, State Senator Lena Taylor, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, businessman Michael Sampson and Leshuh Griffin.

Experts say candidates hoping to make it to the April election will have to fight for voters' attention.

"Turnout is always a concern, but in general these elections tend to be lower information affairs," Marquette University associate professor of political science Amber Wichowsky told CBS 58. "They're not held in the context of a national election."

Because of that, endorsements could be important in the mayoral race. Voters who do make it out to the polls may take cues from organizations that give their seal of approval to certain candidates.

"It might give me a signal that this is a candidate that holds issue priorities that I hold," Wichowsky said. "But also it can work the opposite way, the cue might send a negative cue, that this is a candidate that I'm more likely to oppose."

Endorsements can also be a sign to voters that a certain candidate has the political weight to stand out from a crowded field.

"It can also provide a signal of viability," Wichowsky said. "And here, in this case, because we don't have an incumbent and it's an open field, endorsements might signal that this is a candidate who's likely to make it through."

The primary is scheduled for Feb. 15 with early voting starting Feb. 1.

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