MILWAUKEE — After conceding the 2020 County Executive election to David Crowley, Chris Larson had some parting shots at the current County Executive, Chris Abele.
"I think his money played an outsized influence in this," Larson said. "He decided he would spend his family's wealth once again and, unfortunately, that total was, gosh, what was it? One hundred some times the individual campaign contribution limit. Obviously, that has an impact on it."
Abele's political action committee (PAC) Leadership MKE received $850,000 from Abele since the beginning of the year. The PAC, in turn, contributed $785,362.78 to Crowley's campaign since Jan. 1.
"We can unrig the system that benefits the super rich," Larson said. "Seeing as we were outspent four to one, if it were just by the money, we should have lost by a landslide. We didn't."
When asked if his contributions helped Crowley win, Abele said, "Hard to say. I can tell you this, it was my intention to support him, and I'm happy he is the County Executive-Elect."
Abele says he's supported hundreds of candidates in the last 30 years.
"The reason I've supported all of them, in each case, I thought they'd be effective and good leaders," Abele said. "Good public servants and treat people with civility and respect and look for solutions and not just fights and problems. Not just melodrama."
Abele says this is selfless support.
"I have never, not once, expected anything of anyone I've supported other than to be an effective public servant," Abele said.
Crowley says the financial support from Abele's PAC isn't what won him the election.
"We didn't solicit [Abele's] support, and we didn't necessarily need his money," Crowley said. "What I can tell you, I think he supported me because he understood the message in what Milwaukee County needs. We need to bring more people to the table. We need those diverse voices at the table to make sure we're making the right decisions. When it comes down to who backs me, I can let people know I'm going to be an independent thinker, and we're going to work well with everyone across Milwaukee County, no matter the ZIP code."
Larson says he fully supports Crowley as the new County Executive.
"I offer congrats to David Crowley," Larson said. "He's a good man, and his success will mean our county's success. I hope you join me in hoping he's successful in leading our county forward."
The final vote had Crowley with 96,541 to Larson's 95,502. The difference, 1,039 votes (.54%), was enough for Larson to request a recount. However, he said he would not.
"We looked at the closeness of the election, and we went through where it would be possible to make up the thousand vote difference," Larson said. "Given there were still a lot of questions about what ballots were acceptable and what ballots weren't, and realizing that a prolonged fight would further divide our community when we should come together, in the midst of a pandemic. It's important to have certainty behind who the County Executive is moving forward rather than go over ballot, after ballot, after ballot."
Crowley is expected to be sworn in as the next County Executive at the beginning of May.