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Wisconsin State Capitol

MILWAUKEE — The eight Democrats running for governor of Wisconsin expressed support for giving more control to local governments and criticized the deal struck by the state to bring a huge Foxconn Technology Group plant to Wisconsin.

At a forum Friday on issues impacting Milwaukee County, the candidates took chances to criticize Republican Gov. Scott Walker. One candidate also used the forum to repeat his desire to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and older.

The forum moderated by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele centered on the issue that local governments receive less state aid than the tax receipts they provide to Wisconsin under a shared revenue system. When candidates were asked whether they supported giving municipalities the power to raise taxes to improve transportation infrastructure, all said they favored giving local governments that power — whether through increasing gas taxes or vehicle registration fees or other means.

The Democrat gubernatorial candidates are: Tony Evers, who is state schools superintendent; Mahlon Mitchell, a firefighter and president of the state firefighters union; Matt Flynn, an attorney and U.S. Navy veteran; Josh Pade, an attorney making his first run for office; former state Rep. Kelda Roys; Mike McCabe, a political activist; Paul Soglin, Madison’s mayor; and state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. They will face off Aug. 14 in a primary to decide who will challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.

There are so many Democrats vying to run against Walker that Mitchell began his remarks by joking that he was “one of 20,000 candidates for governor.”

Evers currently has a double-digit lead over the field of candidates, according to a Marquette University Law School poll last month.

All of the Democratic candidates disapprove of the Foxconn deal. Responding to the question of how to spur economic growth, Evers said the state should invest more money locally, “not on the one-shot deals like Foxconn.” Flynn, who reiterated his support for marijuana legalization, said he would sue to stop the Foxconn project. And Vinehout promised to increase the shared revenue returned to municipalities by $450 million in her first budget, noting that the amount is less than what Foxconn is receiving in its first budget allocation.

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