MILWAUKEE — From Milwaukee city council members to state legislators and even a few outsiders, the list of potential mayoral candidates to replace Mayor Tom Barrett is already long. Public affairs adviser Evan Zeppos said he expects there could be anywhere from six to ten candidates.
"It's going to be crowded, it's going to be exciting, and it's not going to be something that you'll just be able to ignore," Zeppos said.
While a few names have already been tossed around, Zeppos cautions against calling anyone a frontrunner at this point. But he did mention three people as "top-tier candidates." Those include City Council President Cavalier Johnson, 14th District Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas.
"What's interesting about all three of those is none of them are white men. Two African Americans and one woman. My own view is that it's time that Milwaukee enter the modern age and elect someone that reflects what this city is all about," Zeppos said.
TMJ4 Anchor Charles Benson spoke to Council President Cavalier Johnson on Thursday about his intentions to fill the seat.
In a statement, Alderwoman Dimitrijevic said, "Just like many other parents in Milwaukee right now, I’m focused on back to school for my children. The next Mayor of Milwaukee will lead us out of this pandemic and into the largest investment we have ever seen. As a mother who cares deeply about our city’s future, I’m excited to consider continuing my service to our city as a Mayor for all and will have a decision soon."
TMJ4 also reached out Sheriff Earnell Lucas, but we have not yet received a response.
Zeppos said there is also the possibility for a strong Hispanic candidate to enter the mayoral race.
"There's a gentleman I know, he served in state government and he now serves as the CEO of a non-profit group, name Héctor Colón. He comes from the city of Milwaukee, the Hispanic community. He's very well regarded," Zeppos said.
He also added that he wouldn't be surprised if one of the Hispanic members of the city council decided to throw their name into the race.
The changing demographics of Milwaukee will also not only influence the candidates, but the voters in this race as well.
"I think the fact that Milwaukee continues to strengthen its position as a majority-minority city will have a profound impact on how the mayor's race runs," Zeppos said.
As far as state legislators go, Zeppos said he wouldn't be surprised if State Senator Lena Taylor ran again. Taylor ran against Barrett in 2020.
State Rep. David Bowen told TMJ4 News, "I think it's definitely something to consider. This city needs great leadership. But, you know, there's a lot going on and this will be an important year for Democrats. So right now I'm just focused on making sure Democrats are going to be successful in 2022."
Zeppos did say there was potential for a candidate outside of city or state government, but that it will take a lot of money to gain the necessary name recognition. He said Sheriff Lucas would probably have a strong chance as a so-called outsider.
Gov. Tony Evers also weighed in on his thoughts of potential candidates.
"I certainly won't say who. But what I will say, given what I know about Milwaukee politics and people's interest being involved in politics, I'm guessing there will be many people for the voters of Milwaukee to pick from," Gov. Evers said.
The timeline of a mayoral election is dependent on when Mayor Barrett's Ambassadorship to Luxembourg is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, but Zeppos said he thinks it could end up being in April of 2022.