While former Trek executive Mary Burke continues to explore a race for governor, another possible Democratic candidate plans to announce his intentions this week.
No Democrat has committed yet to running against Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2014. Burke, who currently serves on the Madison school board but has never run statewide, is seen by many as the most viable candidate because she could tap her personal wealth to help fuel a run. Democratic state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who ran in last year's recall election but came in a distant third in the primary, said she wouldn't decide on getting in the race until next year.
The third Democrat who has publicly said he is seriously considering getting in the race is Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris. He said late last week that he will make up his mind by Labor Day.
Walker reported raising $3.5 million in the first six months of this year, had $2.2 million in the bank and continues to fundraise at a furious pace. On Friday, he attended a $2,500-per-person fundraiser in Tennessee for his re-election campaign.
A CPA and attorney, Harris worked in Michigan and Indiana before moving to Wisconsin and serving three terms on the Oshkosh City Council, including a year as mayor. He was elected Winnebago County executive in 2005 and has been re-elected twice since.
Burke, in an email, said she is still seriously considering running but does not have a time frame for making a decision.
With help from the Democratic Party, Burke has been traveling the state for weeks meeting with state lawmakers, former office holders, elected officials, labor leaders, policy experts and others. The Democratic Party has also been polling to gauge voter interest in a potential Burke candidacy.
Burke served as state Commerce Department secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007. A former Doyle aide, Tanya Bjork, has accompanied Burke on some of her meetings as she explores her candidacy. Bjork has deep roots in Democratic politics, including running President Barack Obama's Wisconsin campaign in 2008.
Burke, 54, is the daughter of Richard Burke, who founded Trek Bicycle in 1976 in Waterloo. She worked for the company in a variety of capacities, including as its director of European operations, helping to start and oversee companies in seven countries. She was elected to the Madison school board in 2012.