Milwaukee mayoral candidates Donovan and Johnson shift focus to general election, each other

NOW: Milwaukee mayoral candidates Donovan and Johnson shift focus to general election, each other

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The stage is now set, and the Milwaukee mayoral showdown is underway.

The April 5th general election is now less than seven weeks away, and Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and former alderman Bob Donovan are setting their sights on each other.

They have different philosophies and different plans, but the same goal.

Johnson celebrated the 42% of the vote he earned in Tuesday's primary, tops in the field. He said, "Whether you're someone who lived in a hard-hit, depressed neighborhood like I lived in growing up. Or whether you're somebody who's worried about Milwaukee's growth and development in the business community, folks have flocked to me to be the leader to carry Milwaukee into the future."

Donovan placed second in the primary with 22% of the vote. He says he's planning a similar strategy for the general campaign, touting his experience. "I know what works and what doesn't work at City Hall, and also I believe I have a very strong record as an alderman of getting things done."

Johnson is a progressive and Donovan a conservative, but both want to improve public safety, economic growth, and education.

Wednesday both candidates repeated applause lines from their victory speeches the night before.

Johnson said, "I'm a candidate for this moment. I'm a candidate than can reach out and build bridges in this city."

Donovan said a big difference is " the money, the big money, half a million bucks, ten times what I've got."

But Johnson isn't running from his sizable war chest, saying, "I understand what Bob is saying. I'm fortunate, and my campaign is fortunate I think, to have broad-based support across the city. And I'm proud of that."

Donovan knows matching that money is an uphill battle. He said, "That's a challenge. But by God I think we have a message that will resonate with the citizens of Milwaukee, and in the final analysis they'll come out and vote for change, and moving Milwaukee in a better direction."

Donovan said he's eager to debate and attack Johnson on several topics, including recent spikes in violence: "Our public safety crisis in Milwaukee, which is horrendous and I might add unprecedented, and then our fiscal challenges."

But Johnson says he's the public safety candidate, not Donovan: "The voters that supported Alderman Donovan are concerned about public safety. And I'm concerned about public safety, too. I don't think anyone's more concerned about public safety in the city than the parents of young kids. And I have three of them."

Johnson talked about how violence has impacted him and his family, and why he's focused on solutions. He said, "When we're in our neighborhood and my kids can't go outside and play because we're concerned about somebody driving recklessly, if we can't take a walk around our block like we used to do because folks are driving recklessly, or we're concerned about a stray bullet flying. Those are concerns to me as a parent. And I think they're concerns not just to other parents, but the people who are concerned about public safety generally."

Even with strong bases of support, both men want to reach more people.

Donovan was asked if he could unite conservative Milwaukeeans. He responded, "We have to appeal to everyone. But we have a solid message. I believe in what I believe. What I believe in is safer streets, better schools, good jobs."

When asked if he's solely looking to solidify the progressive vote, Johnson said, "My goal is to fight for every single vote in Milwaukee. Every single one."

Both campaigns are finalizing a debate schedule, which should be announced in the coming days.

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