Milwaukee Sen. Lena Taylor announces candidacy for Wisconsin lieutenant governor

NOW: Milwaukee Sen. Lena Taylor announces candidacy for Wisconsin lieutenant governor

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee State Senator Lena Taylor announced Monday, Oct. 4, she will run for lieutenant governor. 

Taylor, who was first elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2003, is the first Democrat to announce a candidacy and is seeking to replace Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, who is running for U.S. Senate. 

"I'm here to get the support of Wisconsinites across the state in order to be able to join the team and help the governor get across the finish line," Taylor said during her announcement in Madison outside the State Capitol. 

She said her campaign will center around agriculture issues and music, stating both will helping bring people together. The Milwaukee Democrat, who served 18 years in the state legislature, also added she will focus on moving Wisconsin forward as the pandemic continues to impact people's lives. 

"Our farmers need an advocate in the governor's office and this is what I will be not just for the economy but as a way of life," said Taylor. "I stand here today to rise to the occasion to help our state, our people, move forward and to flourish," Taylor said.

There were some reports that Taylor had interest in running for Milwaukee Mayor again after losing an election last year to incumbent Tom Barrett. When asked why run for lieutenant governor instead, Taylor said, "Last I checked we have a mayor, his name is Tom Barrett, and he has not departed."

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin would not comment on Taylors announcement as more candidates are expected to enter the race. The seat is open after Barnes launched his U.S. Senate campaign for Senator Ron Johnson's (R-WI) seat.

"They want a pair of candidates who compliment one another and are appealing to the different kinds of voters, Evers and Barns had that because they were from different generations, they were from different parts of the state, and different races," said Barry Burden, UW-Madison political science professor. 

The Republican Party of Wisconsin doubted Taylors ability to win over voters after she was cited for disorderly conduct after being accused of calling a bank teller a racial slur in 2018. That same year, Taylor was kicked off the powerful budget committee after a Legislative human resources investigation revealed she bullied and discriminated her staff. 

“Lena Taylor brings a mix of extreme liberalism and bad temperament to the campaign for lieutenant governor as she’s so hot-headed that she can’t get people to work for her, so how does she expect to win over voters?” said Anna Kelly, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. 

Several Republicans including, State Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point), Lancaster Mayor David Varnam and Ben Vokel, a former aid to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, have also announced a run for lieutenant governor. 

“We welcome Sen. Taylor to the race, and while they have vastly different political positions, Sen. Testin considers her a friend," said Chris Olmstead, Testin's campaign manager. "The next year will allow the opportunity to lay out competing visions on how to best move Wisconsin forward, and a continuation of the catastrophic policies of this Evers Administration won’t cut it for Badger State voters.”

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