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State Rep. Dana Wachs announces bid for governor

Laurel White

Wisconsin Public Radio

Democratic state Rep. Dana Wachs announced Monday he is running for governor.

Wachs, of Eau Claire, is the third Democrat to launch an official bid ahead of the 2018 gubernatorial election in Wisconsin. He joins Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik and recent college graduate Bob Harlow in the race.

Wachs said Monday he would give "regular folks" a voice in the state Capitol.

"These huge, wealthy corporations and insurance companies, special interests, seem to be running things in Madison, and I think regular folks need to get a fair shake," he said.

The 59-year-old Democratic lawmaker, who's an attorney, began serving in the state Assembly in 2012. Prior to that, he served on the Eau Claire City Council.

"I think it's important that the governor has an understanding of what rural and small city folks are thinking, as well as big city folks," he said.

Wachs said pillars of his campaign will include support for raising the minimum wage and providing better student loan refinancing options to graduates in debt.

Several other potential Democratic candidates, including state Superintendent Tony Evers, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, former state Rep. Brett Hulsey and activist Mike McCabe have all registered campaign committees, but have yet to announce an official run.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has also told media he is considering a bid.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Scott Walker has yet to officially announce his candidacy for a third term, though he has hired a campaign manager. Walker has said he will wait to begin a campaign until the state budget, now about a month past deadline, is complete.

Walker campaign manager Joe Fadness didn’t comment specifically on Wachs’ candidacy Monday, but issued a statement stating, "Wisconsin families are seeing how Governor Walker’s record of reforming the system to put taxpayers in charge has our state headed in the right direction."

The Republican Party of Wisconsin announced a digital ad campaign Monday targeting Wachs.

"While Gov. Walker has been reforming the system for hard-working Wisconsin families, liberal trial attorney Dana Wachs has been exploiting the system," said Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin. "Wisconsinites can’t afford to let Wachs take advantage of them like he does everything else."

Democratic candidates for governor will face each other in the August 2018 partisan primary. The general election will be in November.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. More WPR news is available on KUWS-FM 91.3 or wpr.org.

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