I live in Milwaukee. I love Milwaukee. I love the neighborhoods, the diversity, the cultural attractions, the services, and the people. Before Milwaukee I lived in Chicago and Philadelphia. If I had to choose between the three, I’d choose Milwaukee.
Which is why I sympathize with Tom Barrett when he says “the governor is trying to divide the state and put people against the city and [I] think that’s wrong.” Just last week I received a mailer from Governor Walker warning that a vote for Tom Barrett was a step towards making the entire state look like Milwaukee. Which, the mailer insinuated, was not a good thing.
Though odd that Milwaukee addresses received the mailer, it is not odd to see politicians run against the state’s largest city. Back in my school choice days I would routinely respond to claims made by candidates outstate that Milwaukee school choice programs were diverting money from their local schools. The Journal Sentinel even ran a nice editorial on the issue back in 2004 titled “Stop the Big City Bashing.”
But is Walker running against Milwaukee, or against Barrett’s record in Milwaukee? As Mayor, Barrett does have to take some ownership over the economic direction of the city. And certainly the job performance of an opponent is a legitimate campaign issue. If voters cannot evaluate Barrett on the trajectory of Milwaukee under his watch, how are they supposed to evaluate him?
I agree with former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz that urban policy has been strangely absent from the Governor’s race. Especially considering the two candidates live less than three miles from each other on and near the west side of Milwaukee. However it came up, I am glad the state’s largest city and most diverse place* is an issue in the race.
*My Madison friends hate when I say this, but I will defend that statement to the end.