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Milwaukee's mayor less than enthusiastic about running for governor

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse appear to be the leading Democratic possibilities for governor next year.

That's according to Journal Sentinel columnist Dan Bice, who says Kind appears to be ready to run while Barrett is not enthusiastic, and would have to be convinced by party leaders.

Bice quotes insiders in both parties as saying that Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and State Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach of Waunakee are in the second-tier of Democratic hopefuls.

So far, Lawton is the only Democrat to say she'll try to replace the retiring Gov. Jim Doyle.

Erpenbach is said to be mulling it over. Barrett returns to work this week after getting national acclaim for intervening in a domestic dispute outside the State Fair nine days ago - and getting beat up in the process.

But Bice says Barrett, his wife, and his top aide are less than enthusiastic about him leaving his current job.

Kind, meanwhile, would have to act quickly to get name recognition outside his western Wisconsin House district.

Bice says the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee wants Kind to stay where he is.

But Kind says the world doesn't revolve around that group and while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would hate to lose him, she would not try to stop him from leaving to run for governor.

Bice says if it comes down to Kind and Barrett, they might work out a deal to avoid a tough primary.

Meanwhile, Bice says Republicans are licking their chops at the chance of winning Kind's House seat. State Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse announced his bid for the House seat earlier this month.