Candidate for Lieutenant Governor would work to restore Wisconsin's idealsMahlon Mitchell, the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, announced today that he will run for the office of Lieutenant Governor against current office-holder Rebecca Kleefisch in her impending recall election late this spring. Mitchell's entrance into the race signals the first major name to challenge Kleefisch, giving Democrats a guaranteed full ticket against both her and Gov. Scott Walker.
Mitchell's candidacy is beneficial for two reasons. First, being the head of a respected union, Mitchell exemplifies the fact that the Democrats mean business when it comes to protecting workers' rights in the state.
But more than that, Mitchell represents those who WEREN'T affected by Gov. Scott Walker's attack on state workers. Firefighters weren't forced to take lower pay or lose their collective bargaining rights when Walker introduced his budget repair bill early last year. Even so, firefighters were among those that protested when hundreds of thousands descended upon the Capitol, recognizing the attack as one that would affect more than those directly hit by it. As the Democratic Party of Wisconsin notes, Mitchell was "a first responder to the Scott Walker emergency."
Mitchell has since been an ardent critic of the Walker administration, sounding off on various issues beyond the right to bargain contracts collectively. He's noted tax loopholes allowing new companies in the state to pay zero taxes and other tax policies that have benefited corporations while hurting the people of Wisconsin. He's touted the hypocrisy of the Walker administration on education, observing that "[Walker and Kleefisch] talk about improving education and then cut $800 million from our schools so they can give more money to private classrooms with no accountability."
Most of all, he's energized many progressive Wisconsinites who are eager to have a fresh face in state politics, particularly within this new movement itself. Much like Lori Compas has in her recall campaign against Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, Mitchell brings out an electrified element to the recalls overall, tearing the house down in nearly every speech he gives.
The candidacy of Mahlon Mitchell is about more than restoring collective bargaining rights to state workers -- Mitchell's union already has those rights respected. It will be a big part of his campaign for sure, but his goal will be greater than that, towards restoring the state of Wisconsin itself to what it was before Walker and Kleefisch took office.