Mayoral candidates emerge following Barrett's nomination for ambassador to Luxembourg

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A day after Mayor Tom Barrett was tapped for a foreign policy role, there's already speculation that there will be a crowded field hoping to take his place. At least two mayoral candidates have already emerged.

There have been only five mayors since 1948, several city leaders said Barrett's departure could be an opportunity to bring change to Milwaukee.

"I am honored by the president's actions and humbled by the trust President Biden has placed in me," Barrett said during a press briefing on Wednesday, Aug. 25.

If Barrett is confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, he will leave big shoes to fill.

"I've just really enjoyed working with him. I hate to see him go, but I think it's a good opportunity and it's an opportunity to find out who's going to be the next leader of the city of Milwaukee," Gov. Tony Evers told CBS 58 on Thursday, Aug. 26.

Barrett's been on the job 17 years in a city with a tradition of mayors serving a long time.

"That's what makes the next mayor election so important because it's almost like a vacant mayor seat comes once in a generation. So if you're a politician who wants to move up the ladder, this is it. You can't wait for the next mayor or the mayor after that," said Mordecai Lee, a professor emeritus at UW-Milwaukee.

Bob Donovan, a retired Milwaukee alderman, isn't wasting any time.

"If Mayor Barrett is confirmed, I will be a candidate for mayor of the city of Milwaukee," Donovan told CBS 58.

He said his top focus would be public safety, including tackling violent crime and reckless driving.

"This is an opportunity for Milwaukee to move, I believe, forward in perhaps a different direction than what we've been doing as of late," Donovan said.

Then there's Sen. Lena Taylor, who lost in the last mayoral race to Barrett.

"What I want is a mayor that will be innovative, a mayor that will be inclusive, that will be transparent, that will speak about all parts that are maybe not the most attractive but speak about it in a way that talks about ... what can we do towards a solution," Taylor told CBS 58.

Taylor stopped short of saying she'd run herself.

"We'll have to wait and see," she told CBS 58. "Right now, I will tell you keeping up with the schedule that I have in the midst of dealing with now thinking about this -- it's been a lot in 24 hours. But I will tell you it's not off the table," Taylor said.

Other names have been thrown around, like Alderman Ashanti Hamilton. He told CBS 58 he was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Sen. Chris Larson's name has also been suggested, after he dropped out of the U.S. Senate race earlier this month. 

Lee expects to see potentially dozens of candidates enter the race if Barrett leaves.

"I think that it's most likely that the next couple of mayors are going to be Hispanic or Black or some other minority, or woman of course is a possibility," Lee said.

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