MILWAUKEE -- Longtime Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was nominated as the new United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, the White House confirmed Wednesday.
If Barrett is confirmed to the position, Milwaukee's city charter states Common Council President Cavalier Johnson would become acting mayor until a new mayor is voted into office.
The U.S. Senate confirms ambassadorships nominated by the president. The process to elect a new mayor would be short, in the three to four-month range, but the timing on that election remains uncertain. There currently is a backlog for confirmations in the Senate.
Mayor Barrett delivered a short statement Wednesday afternoon. He said his full attention remains on his mayoral duties and obligations between the nomination and Senate confirmation.
"As a lifelong Milwaukeean, I will bring the values of our community to this new posting - values we share such as hard work, honesty, and caring for others. I am proud that in my time as mayor, we've made progress on so many fronts, including economic development, racial equity, our pandemic response, our city infrastructure and environmental sustainability," Barrett said.
Common Council President Cavalier Johnson issued a statement following the announcement, saying "We will continue to work closely with the Mayor during this time of transition. Until he decides to step down he will remain in that position, and the business at City Hall will continue.”
Barrett first became mayor in 2004, when he defeated incumbent Mayor Marvin Pratt. He was re-elected in 2008, 2012, 2016, and most recently in 2020.
He also was a candidate for Governor of Wisconsin twice - in 2010 and in 2012, for Governor Scott Walker's recall election. Barrett lost both statewide races.
Earlier in his political career, Barrett served in the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing the 14th Assembly District. In 1989, he won an election to the Wisconsin State Senate. Four years later in 1993, Barrett was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Wisconsin's 5th Congressional district.
Mayor Barrett was at Luxembourg Fest in Belgium, Wisconsin a couple weeks ago, organizers tell us. Barrett said then he was taking the day off and checking the festival out. The Luxembourg Ambassador to the U.S. was also at the festival.
Luxembourg is a Western European nation that lies between France and Germany. It is slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island and about half the size of Delaware, according to the CIA World Factbook. 640,000 'Luxembourgers' call the country home. Milwaukee's population in 2019 was 594,548.
Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world, has the highest minimum wage in the European Union and nearly half of the workforce commutes in to work from another country.
Barrett's departure is expected to cause a political vacuum in Milwaukee politics, as TMJ4's Steve Chamraz points out:
:: @MayorOfMKE's departure would create a political vacuum.— Steve Chamraz (@TMJ4Steve) August 26, 2021
After 2004, he dominated at the ballot box.
Barrett 63%@SenTaylor 37%
Barrett 70%@AldermanDonovan 30%
Edward McDonald 29%
Andrew Shaw 21%
Marvin Pratt 46%