Posted by Ruth Conniff on January 16, 2014

by Ruth Conniff

Several sources close to Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout told The Progressive on Thursday that she has decided against making a run for governor.

Vinehout, who has been recovering from a car accident and resulting surgery on a fractured arm, will hold a press conference on Friday to announce her decision.

Some progressives and Wisconsin labor leaders had been encouraging Vinehout's exploration of a possible run against millionaire businesswoman and fomer Commerce secretary Mary Burke, the only announced Democratic candidate in the race.

Vinehout hired a campaign staffer, and had begun travelling the state and meeting with voters, when she was temporarily derailed by the crash and her resulting hospitalization on December 8.

Vinehout was one of 14 state senators who left Wisconsin to delay Governor Scott Walker's union-busting Act 10, which ended most collective bargaining rights for many public employees.

She is more closely tied to the Wisconsin protests over Walker's union-busting and budget-cutting than Burke, sits on the senate budget committee, and has produced alternative budgets that contrast with Walker's spending decisions, producing balanced budgets that reflect true progressive values.

A dairy farmer from Alma, in the northwest part of the state, Vinehout also sits on the senate education committee and is a strong advocate for public schools and against school privatization efforts being advanced by Republicans.

Burke, who says she supports collective bargaining rights but takes the same position as Walker on negotiating employee contributions to pensions and benefits, did not take a prominent role in the Wisconsin protests.

Instead, she has focused on Walker's poor job-creation record, and is running on restoring economic health and civility to the state.

Early endorsements from Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List, as well as significant personal assets to contribute to her campaign, helped Burke build a formiddable fundraising machine. 

Her early release of first-quarter fundraising numbers showed that she had managed to raise $1.8 million in the first three months of the race -- a number virtually identical to what Walker raised in that same time period during his first campaign for governor in 2009.