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"Milwaukee-centric" governors race

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UNDATED (WSAU) Wisconsin voters will make a choice in November that no one in the U-S has ever made. The Journal Sentinel says the governor’s race between Democrat Tom Barrett and Republican Scott Walker is the first time ever that a mayor in a state’s largest city is running against the top official in the same county for that state’s top office. It can only happen in 13 states, because the others don’t have elected county executives like Milwaukee does with Walker.

This election assures that Wisconsin will have its first governor from Milwaukee County since 1938, when Republican Julius Heil won. And Democrat George Peck was the last Milwaukee city resident elected in 1892.

U-W Milwaukee professor Mordecai Lee says big city governors are rare throughout the country, and he cites an intense rural-urban split that goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson. Also, Marquette professor John McAdams says it’s rare for opposing candidates to come from the same county, because political parties build their bases by regions. Milwaukee has been considered a Democratic stronghold for years, but county voters first chose the Republican Walker in 2002 during a time of public outrage over pensions for top county officials. Lee says this year’s election spur a big change in Wisconsin politics – because both the Milwaukee mayor and the county executive used to be considered as destination jobs, and not stepping stones to higher office.

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