Political activist Mike McCabe is the latest candidate to join the Democratic primary field for governor, with a campaign announcement planned in central Wisconsin on Tuesday.
The former head of the campaign finance watchdog Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, McCabe founded the nonprofit group Blue Jean Nation in 2015 with the goal of restructuring the priorities of the country's political parties.
"Wisconsin is up to its eyeballs in problems. Same goes for our country as a whole. The problems grow out of political and economic inequality. Our society has been made more and more elitist, both politically and economically. It has been divided into royals and commoners," McCabe said in a statement. "I am running for one reason and one reason only — to re-establish the ideal that our government should work as well for the commoners as it does for the royals."
McCabe, 56, said in May he was "willing" to run after a group of 190 people published a letter encouraging him to do it.
"I think what they’ve all got in common is they really have lost faith that if they stand on the sidelines and wait for the parties to decide for them who they get to choose from, that they'll be satisfied," McCabe said of his supporters in an interview last spring. "They really feel like they need to take matters into their own hands, and I think that’s inspiring that they’re doing that."
He is set to launch his campaign on the farm where he grew up, a few miles north of Curtiss in Clark County. Although he is registered to run as a Democrat, his campaign slogan is "Principle Over Party."
Following his announcement in Clark County, McCabe has events scheduled in Wausau and Green Bay.
McCabe has made a series of pledges: If elected, he would not live in the executive residence, nor would he accept the full governor's salary. He has also vowed not to accept any campaign contributions more than $200.
His platform includes increasing the minimum wage, increasing access to high-speed internet and phone service, allowing all Wisconsin residents to buy into the state's BadgerCare health insurance program and making Wisconsin "the nation's clean energy capital."
McCabe advocates "geyser economics," in which "economic prosperity gushes up" rather than trickling down. He has taken to referring to Republican-backed tax breaks as "golden shower economics."
McCabe ran as a Democrat against now-Congressman Mark Pocan for the state Assembly in 1998, but also worked for three Republican legislators.
"Phony Mike McCabe posed for years as a pro-reform activist but was in reality taking money from dark-money heavyweights and practicing the partisan politics he condemns. While Governor Walker has fought for reforms that help hard-working Wisconsin families, McCabe would continue to mislead Wisconsinites and take our state backward," said Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesman Alec Zimmerman in a statement.
McCabe joins Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, Eau Claire state Rep. Dana Wachs and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers in the Democratic field. Walker has not officially launched his re-election campaign yet.
In a statement, Wachs campaign manager said the lawmakers is "the only candidate running for Governor who can beat Scott Walker. Not only is he a proud Wisconsin progressive, but he's a life long Democrat with a real track record of fighting for working families."
Gronik said in a statement that Wisconsin voters "deserves lots of alternatives" to Walker
"I love competition and welcome anyone into the race with a progressive vision for our state. I’m confident in my ability to differentiate myself from the field with fresh and innovative plans that will make living in Wisconsin better for everyone," Gronik said.
A spokeswoman for Evers did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.