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Posted at 11:06 AM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-14 13:51:35-04
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Milwaukee businessman and entrepreneur Andy Gronik said Tuesday that he hopes to decide "fairly soon" whether to seek the Democratic nomination to run for governor next year.
The political newcomer told The Associated Press that he won't decide within the next two weeks, but that it won't be months, either. Gronik is among several Democrats, including those in the business community with no political experience, who are weighing whether to run against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker is raising money and sending strong signals that he will seek a third term, but he won't officially announce his decision until this summer.
Although Gronik hasn't decided whether to run, he's already taking swipes at Walker, saying he's underperformed as governor. Gronik hit Walker for failing to deliver on his promise to create 250,000 private-sector jobs during his first term, saying he sees no cohesive strategy to grow the economy.
"This isn't really about blame, this is about performance," Gronik said. After six years in office, Walker is still about 65,000 jobs short of the promised 250,000. In the private sector, if someone missed their stated goal by that much "he'd get fired," Gronik said.
Walker's campaign spokesman did not immediately reply to a message seeking comment. Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, didn't comment directly about Gronik, but he said the question for any Democrat running for office is whether they stand behind state party chairwoman Martha Laning. She is being challenged for her leadership position after Democrats suffered a string of losses in the November election.
Gronik, 59, is founder and president of Stage W, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit that advocates for "bridging the political divide" to "advance ideas that create good jobs and provide great education throughout Wisconsin."
Gronik has been talking privately for months about the possibility of getting into the wide-open Democratic race for governor. He's never run for office before and he's made minimal campaign donations. He gave $750 to three Democratic candidates for state offices last year, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign's online database.
He said his 35 years of experience working for a variety of other companies around the world give him the skills necessary to help the state. The 2014 Democratic nominee for governor, Mary Burke, also came from the business world and had limited political experience.
Walker defeated Burke by nearly 6 percentage points.
Other Democrats who are mulling a run for governor include former state Sen. Tim Cullen, of Janesville, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma, state Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ.
There is one declared Democratic candidate, Bob Harlow. Harlow grew up in Barneveld and graduated with a degree in physics last year from Stanford University. He ran for Congress in California last year, but was eliminated in the primary with just 7 percent of the vote against incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo.
Harlow's platform for governor includes installing a 200 mph high-speed train line throughout the state, a project said he would help create 35,000 jobs, restoring union collective bargaining rights eliminated by Walker, vetoing all new pipeline or mining proposals, guaranteeing health care costs never exceed 9 percent of total income and ensuring that all Wisconsin schools are funded at or above the national per-student average.
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