MADISON, Wis. - Eighteen Democratic gubernatorial candidates were registered with the Wisconsin Elections Commission, as of Sunday evening.
The nine candidates considered to be frontrunners were invited to a forum Sunday night hosted by the East Side Progressives, according to Nan Brien, one of the group's members.
"We wanted people who had a campaign manager, an active campaign and were raising money," Brien said.
In alphabetical order by last name, the candidates invited to the forum were State Superintendent Tony Evers; Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik; former Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn; political activist Mike McCabe; firefighters' union leader Mahlon Mitchell; former state representative Kelda Roys; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, of Alma; and state Rep. Dana Wachs, of Eau Claire.
Rep. Melissa Sargent moderated the event at LaFollette High School in Madison. Candidates were asked about a variety of issues, including the economy, road construction, priorities in the state budget, mental health programs, the environment, the legalization of marijuana and student loan debt.
Martha Laning, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said she thinks her party's message is being amplified with so many different candidates.
"I think the Republican agenda has just gone so far to the right," Laning said. "Democrats are offering the right plan, and I think we're going to see a huge blue wave in 2018 because of it."
Although the candidates are from different backgrounds and cities, they made it clear Sunday night that they were united in their hope of beating Gov. Scott Walker in the November election.
A statement from Alec Zimmerman, a spokesperson for the Wisconsin Republican Party said, in part, "While Democrat candidates for governor continue to fight about how to take Wisconsin backward and offer nothing but the same failed policies of yesterday, Scott Walker is getting positive things done for Wisconsin."
The other Democrats registered with the Elections Commission are pastor Nick De Leon; salon owner Michele Doolan; recent Stanford University graduate Bob Harlow; information-technology worker Dave Heaster; former state Rep. Brett Hulsey, of Madison; private investigator Jared Landry; political newcomer Andrew Lust; disability rights advocate Jeff Rumbaugh; and photographer Ramona Whiteaker, of Stoughton.
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