Wisconsin state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is all but certainly running for Wisconsin governor. Former Fort McCoy commander Ray Boland is running for Ron Kind’s seat in Congress. And Kind himself isn’t committing to anything.
Vinehout, D-Alma, confirmed Thursday that she is considering a run against Gov. Scott Walker should the first-term Republican face a recall this year — a likely scenario given the more than 1 million signatures opponents turned in last week.
“People want a fresh face, and they’re asking me to run,” she said Thursday.
Vinehout, 53, said she likes her chances against the two perceived Democratic front-runners, former Dane County executive Kathleen Falk and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, both attorneys.
“There are more teachers and dairy farmers in this state than lawyers,” said the former university professor-turned dairy farmer in her second term as a state senator. She said it was a difficult decision, “turning my life upside down,” but worth it “for a great opportunity to be able to lead the state into a new era.”
On the federal landscape, Boland, a 74-year-old retired Army colonel, formally launched his Republican bid for Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District seat at a party Thursday night in his hometown of Sparta. It is his first bid for elected office, though Boland served as Wisconsin’s secretary of Veterans Affairs under three governors.
Boland echoed the mission of fiscal reform he cited when first announcing his plans to run in December, saying a balanced federal budget is key to righting the national economy.
“If you don’t attack that start point, I don’t see how you get to the rest of it,” he said.
Boland said he admires Rep. Paul Ryan for the Wisconsin Republican’s willingness to take on entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicaid.
“Somebody has got to step up to the plate and lead the way, and I want to help him all I can,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kind wouldn’t say if he plans to run for governor — as many have encouraged him to — or even if he plans to seek re-election to Congress. “Right now I’ve got a full plate, and I’m focused on what I’m doing in Washington,” the La Crosse Democrat said Thursday during a news conference on the pending farm bill.
He hasn’t been shy about criticizing Walker, though.
“I’ve believed for the past year that we are in need of new leadership in the state,” Kind said. “The agenda that Gov. Walker has pushed was unnecessary. I think he has unnecessarily divided the state, communities and even families. And it didn’t have to be this way. It’s certainly not the Wisconsin way.”
Pressed on whether he’s ruled out a run for governor, Kind said, “We’ll make a decision in a little bit.”
For his part Boland said it doesn’t matter who he ultimately runs against. “It is curious as to what his intentions are,” he said. “I know what I’m doing — there’s only one office I’m running for.”
The district, which covers much of western Wisconsin, is expected to become more strongly Democratic if redistricting maps approved by the GOP-led Legislature are upheld by the courts.