Invoking his roots as a Wisconsinite and a firefighter, Mahlon Mitchell launched his campaign for governor yesterday with three events across the state, culminating in an energetic speech to about 100 supporters at Lucille in downtown Madison.
“My background is pretty simple. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” he said. “I’m a true Wisconsinite. I grew up in Delavan, Wisconsin. I grew up in the same area as Governor Walker. We, me and Governor Walker, attended the same schools, middle school and high school. Now, we obviously took some different classes. And from there I get hired at a very young age with the city of Madison Fire Department. My dream job.”
Mitchell sounded the refrain, “all hands working,” which he called a “mantra” of firefighters.
“‘All hands working’ is real simple,” he said. “When we are on the scene or when we are at a fire, we’re at a mass casualty incident or a big conflagration, we have all hands working. Meaning that everybody on the scene is doing something. Everybody on the scene is doing something to mitigate the incident. Everybody on the scene is doing something to stabilize it to make the lives of our community just hopefully a little bit better for that time. I think we need to take this mantra to the state level. We need all hands working at the state. We need everybody working together. That’s why … I’m proud to say to you that I am running for governor, to be your next governor in the state of Wisconsin.”
In his 15-minute speech he touched on bread-and-butter issues like healthcare, education and job creation — not a surprise for the statewide president of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin and staunch union advocate.
“Let’s get to work on creating good paying jobs, full-time jobs that could support a family,” he said. “There’s more to Wisconsin and our economy than just our unemployment rate. Especially, for those Wisconsinites working two to three jobs just to make ends meet. So let’s work on raising wages so that we all can rise together. Let’s do what Scott Walker won’t do and raise the minimum wage. Because there is something wrong when the majority of Wisconsinites are living at $50,000 dollars a year or lower, and the top one percent in our state are living at $933,000 dollars a year. We need to make sure that everyone in Wisconsin that goes to a fish fry on Friday, doesn’t have to worry about paying for their bills on Monday.”
He said improving education, healthcare and quality of life will create jobs by attracting businesses.
“If we do all those things, we won’t need to beg, or to con a place like Foxconn to come to Wisconsin for $3 billion,” he said, referring to the manufacturer that will soon build a factory in southeast Wisconsin thanks in part to massive tax incentives from the state. “We won’t need to beg them to come. They’ll want to come here because all our investments in the state. And they know they will have the best workers. So when they call us and say, ‘Well what are you going to give us to come to your state?’ We’re gonna say, ‘We’ll give you the best workers and the best environment you could ever grow jobs. And the best economy in the world.’”
Mitchell began the day at Al’s Hamburger in Green Bay, where he said the crowd was bigger than expected.
“We had a great showing of support there, a lot of hard hats, a lot of workers, a lot of people. We actually weren’t able to have everybody inside because of fire code. I’m strict about that,” he joked.
Mitchell is one of several Democrats who have entered or are considering entering the race. Declared candidates include State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Madison activist Mike McCabe, State Representative Dana Wachs, state schools superintendent Tony Evers and Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik.
The winner of the primary could stand a decent chance at defeating the two-term incumbent Walker; a Public Policy Polling survey in October showed Walker trailing a generic Democrat 48 to 43 percent.