Retired Alderman Bob Donovan announces he will run for mayor

Donovan said if Mayor Tom Barrett’s nomination to ambassador of Luxembourg is accepted by the U.S. Senate, he will throw his hat in the ring for Milwaukee’s next mayor

MILWAUKEE — Retired Alderman Bob Donovan announced on Wednesday that if Mayor Tom Barrett becomes the next ambassador to Luxembourg, he will run for mayor in a special election.

Donovan told WISN 12’s Caroline Reinwald his intentions to run for mayor after the White House officially announced Barrett’s nomination as the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

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“If, in fact, Mayor Barrett is confirmed and exits his seat as mayor of Milwaukee, I will be the first in line to throw my hat in the ring, yes, I can assure you of that,” Donovan said. “The reality is, we need a change, we need to move this city in a different direction, and I think I’m the guy to do it.”

President Joe Biden’s nomination of Barrett as ambassador to Luxembourg sets in motion the mayor’s departure from an office he’s held for 17-years.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to the opportunity to serve the interests of the United States and President Biden,” Barrett said during a brief news conference Wednesday afternoon. “I care deeply about the future of our city. Yes, there are some challenges and there are some very serious challenges in front of us. But I have faith in the people here, and I have faith that they are ready to meet these challenges.”

Barrett, 67, is the nation’s longest-serving big-city mayor.

He was first elected in 2004 and is the third longest-serving mayor in city history.

“I care deeply about the future of our city,” he said Wednesday. “Yes, there are some challenges and there are some very serious challenges in front of us. But I have faith in the people here, and I have faith that they are ready to meet these challenges.”

Donovan, who has long been a critic of Barrett’s, lost to him in the 2016 mayoral election.

“Milwaukee’s changed since 2016. It’s changed big time and I think most voters will tell you it’s changed significantly, not necessarily for the better,” Donovan said. “A special election is a whole different ball game than a normal election cycle.”

Donovan wouldn’t be the only one likely running.

“We need to shake things up in Milwaukee, we need to get this city back on track with some common sense leadership,” Donovan said.

If Barrett is confirmed, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson would take his seat as acting mayor.

“We will continue to work closely with the Mayor during this time of transition,” Johnson said in a statement on Wednesday. “Until he decides to step down he will remain in that position, and the business at City Hall will continue.”

State Sen. Lena Taylor also walked into City Hall on Wednesday, after the mayor’s announcement, but was unclear on her intentions.

“A lot of people may line up to run, will you be one of them,” asked WISN 12’s Kent Wainscott.

“I’m sure that they will, and we’ll have to see,” Taylor responded.

Johnson’s political consultant, Sachin Chedda, gave his full support for Johnson, if he decided to run.

“I work with Cavalier Johnson. I think he’s really proved himself. He’s put together a coalition on the Common Council. They’re driving the city in the right direction, that’s who I’m going to support,” Chedda said.

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