Voters will elect a new mayor for the first time since 2004 after Tom Barrett was appointed a US ambassador.
For the first time since 2004, residents of Wisconsin’s largest city and economic driver will soon elect a new mayor—and, following Tuesday’s spring primary, the field has been narrowed from seven to two candidates who offer starkly different views of the city’s future.
Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and former Alderman Bob Donovan were the top two vote-getters, with Johnson receiving 42% of votes cast and Donovan receiving 22%. The election of either would be historic—Johnson, a Democrat, would be the first-ever Black mayor to be elected in Milwaukee, while Donovan, who is white, would be the first Republican elected mayor of Milwaukee in a century.
Johnson has been endorsed by state Sen. LaTonya Johnson and Rep. Evan Goyke, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, and former Gov. Marty Schreiber. Donovan, meanwhile, boasts endorsements from Donald Trump ally and disgraced former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and several retired police officers, pastors, and local business owners.
The two will face off in the April 5 spring election.
State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who dropped out of her campaign for lieutenant governor to run for mayor, came in third place with 13% of the vote. Alderwoman Marina Dimitrejevic (12%), Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas (10%), business owner Michael Sampson (1%), and community activist Ieshuh Griffin (1%) rounded out the field.
Taylor unsuccessfully ran in the 2020 mayoral election against former Mayor Tom Barrett, garnering 37% of the vote. Donovan also previously ran against Barrett, losing with just 30% of the vote in 2016.
The mayoral race became wide open when President Joe Biden last year appointed Barrett to be US ambassador to Luxembourg (Johnson, the former City Council president, became acting mayor upon Barrett’s resignation). Barrett first won election in 2004 with 54% of the vote and received at least 63% in each of his re-election bids.
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