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Wisconsin's Democratic gubernatorial candidates prepare before a public forum at La Follette High School in Madison on Jan. 28.

Governor Scott Walker is trying to rally Republicans to fight off a potential "blue wave" coming to unseat him.

There may be a blue wave, but as Democratic candidate Andy Gronik put it Sunday, “it’s important that people appreciate that it’s not going to carry just any old candidate across the finish line.”

Which candidate then? There are plenty to choose from, as the Democratic field of candidates for governor has become increasingly crowded, with an addition just last week and rumors of more to come.  

Gronik a Milwaukee businessman, liberal radio broadcaster Mike Crute and state Superintendent Tony Evers all appeared on Sunday political talk shows “UpFront with Mike Gousha” and WKOW-TV’s “Capital City Sunday,” each pointing to the characteristics they say set them apart.


Evers believes he’s in a class by himself with three statewide election wins and comparatively wide name recognition.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin recently called the primary a two-person race between Evers and himself, pointing to a survey commissioned by his campaign that showed once candidates were given a description of Evers and Soglin, Evers polled at 25 percent and Soglin at 23 percent.

Evers brushed off the survey, saying he has “no idea how I was described,” and pointed to other polls that place him in the lead.

“I think it’s a one-person race, when you have a 10-point lead. I’ve run statewide three times, there’s no other candidate that can say that,” he said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha.” “So no, I think it’s a one-person race.”

“That’s a pretty bold statement,” host Gousha said .

“Absolutely. But 10 points is 10 points,” Evers said.

He said all the other candidates were “great people."

“At the end of the day, you look at our differences on issues, they’re not much,” Evers said. “It’s who can beat Scott Walker."

Asked whether he would consider tax increases to support education, Evers said he would want to look elsewhere first, like the manufacturing and agricultural tax credits, but would “look at all the options.”

Though Evers doesn’t like the Foxconn deal, he doesn’t think it can legally be undone, and is focused on how to hold the company accountable to make it “the best corporate citizen in the state of Wisconsin.”

The state needs a Plan B, he said, and “can’t all just sit around and say, ‘Oh my gosh, we hate Foxconn, it was a bad deal.’” Evers suggested ways to make the deal better for the state, like providing jobs for residents in Milwaukee, Kenosha and Racine, and holding Foxconn’s “feet to the fire” on what kind of living wage and benefits they will provide.


Crute said he’s running specifically because there were no stand-out candidates in the Democratic crowd. Crute, a liberal broadcaster who co-hosts the radio show “The Devil's Advocates,” joined the race just last week. He said that he’s interviewed many of the other Democratic candidates and called them “very fine people.”

“My big issue is with the way these Democrats are running their campaigns … how they’re failing to differentiate or capture the imagination or passion of Wisconsin voters,” he said.

He said this happened in previous races, with prior Democratic candidates Mary Burke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. He said he wanted “to pull these candidates more passionately into their positions, and they chose not to, and their results were less than successful.”

Asked how he's going to set himself apart, Crute pointed to his debating skills and his outreach efforts to African-American voters.

He said he’s spent 15 months creating “portals of communication especially to African-American in Milwaukee, we’ve hired new morning hosts, I got former Packers on our staff. We are doing our best not just to talk at them, but to listen to them.”

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“Talk radio is a get-out-the-vote mechanism,” Crute said. “And my goal is to keep people passionate and plugged in.”

He added that Walker needs to be taken to task in a debate. Walker only has “bumper stickers and platitudes,” he said.

“I think if someone ever got on the stage with Scott Walker and rhetorically punched him the mouth over and over again for his own record, I don’t think he can stand up and support his own record” he said. “He will wilt if I’m his debate partner.”


One way Gronik sets himself apart, he said on “Capital City Sunday,” is through his social media outreach.

“We’re already standing out,” Gronik said. “I mean I started this race as the outsider, someone who had no name recognition. And we now have the largest social media following in the entire race.”

Gronik has frequently repeated his “outsider” theme, and noted in the interview that he never imagined running for office, but “our state is so completely upside down.”

“Who would have ever imagined that we’d have a governor that’s going to attack healthcare, going to attack teachers and the institutions that teach our kids about how to actually obtain a bright future?” he said. “There’s a lot of things right now that are pretty unusual.”

He highlighted what he called an optimistic plan for the future of Wisconsin, although he doesn’t deny there’s also been “some smacking Scott Walker upside the head, too, which he makes pretty easy these days.”

He specifically criticized Walker for Foxconn, saying “You couldn't take that deal to a bank and get it financed,” he said, and there’s “no revenue side component to actually hang your hat on.”

“I am uniquely qualified to go toe to toe with him as a guy who not only built my own businesses, but a guy who specialized in helping other businesses to be successful,” Gronik said.