Tom Barrett's first stop since making the announcement in Milwaukee that he'll join the race for governor was in Wausau at the Labor Temple.
"Good evening, Wausau," Barrett said Saturday night. "It's great to be here. It's great to be back in Marathon County."
Just one day after confirming to voters he's ready for a rematch with Scott Walker, Barrett took his campaign to north central Wis., where local Democrats were having their second annual spring dinner.
"I want to restore trust to the Office of the Governor," Barrett said. "I want to heal this state and I want to concentrate on creating jobs."
Despite months of speculation from supporters, the Milwaukee mayor says he wanted to wait until the Government Accountability board certified the recall petitions before he made his decision.
"The people of the state of Wis. are having their voices heard," Barrett said. "We have 900,000 people saying look, we have to look at this again."
Meanwhile, Gov. Walker says he welcomes the election. In an interview with CBS News, he says it will allow him to review with voters all the positive change he's brought to the state.
"What this does is send a tremendous message all across America, every state house, even in the halls of Congress, if you stand up and take on the tough issues, not just for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren, there will be people willing to stand up there with you," Walker said.
A Marquette University poll out earlier this week shows Walker leads Barrett by two percent. But one out Friday from NBC News/Marist shows voters favor a Democrat over Walker 48% to 46%. Barrett will face off in a primary against Doug La Follette, Kathleen Vinehout and Kathleen Falk, who is already backed by one of the largest unions in Wisconsin, AFSCME.
"She has been there with labor since the beginning of everything and Tom Barrett has basically given Republicans a playbook of how to split Act 10 into fiscal and unfiscal to get it passed," said Bill Bursaw, a Wausau resident and the president of his local public employees union.
"We've got a very serious issue here because we know that there are fake candidates," Barrett told the crowd of more than 100.
In addition to the Democrats, the State Republican Party says it plans to run candidates in each recall primary. And with four candidates already vying for the governor's seat, Barrett says now is the time for Democrats to rally around one.
"I'm here to say I need your help to win this primary," Barrett said. "I'm here to tell you that I am the strongest candidate against Scott Walker in the general election."
The primary elections will be held May 8 and the general election is scheduled for June 8.
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