Ken Lumpkin over at the Insider News spills the beans on an increasingly less secretive secret. Former State Sen. Kim Plache is a likely candidate for mayor.
She'll announce this week, probably Tuesday before the City Council calls the May 5 special election to replace Gary Becker on Wednesday. The primary election to narrow the field to two candidates is scheduled for April 7. Mayor Tom Friedel is serving in the office until the May election.
Plache, 48, was elected as a Democrat to the Assembly in 1988 and served until 1996, when she defeated former State Sen. George Petak in a recall election. Petak lost favor after casting the deciding vote for the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park stadium.
Plache was reelected to the Senate in 1998, but lost a close election to State Sen. Cathy Stepp, R-Yorkville, in 2002.
Since then, Plache has worked for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, representing a five-county region including Racine County.
She announced late last year she was running for Racine Unified School Board. But she's shifted gears since Gary Becker's swift downfall and is now looking to become the city's first female chief executive. Two other women - Lesia Hill-Driver and Jody Harding - are also expected to run this spring.
One minor problem for Plache is her name is already on the ballot for school board race, and under state law it can only be removed by death. Plache said she won't serve both jobs.
A bigger problem is Plache doesn't live in the City of Racine. She and her family - Plache is married with an 11-year-old daughter - moved to Mount Pleasant a few years ago to have better access to their jobs. They live near Spring Street and South Emmertsen Road.
Plache intends to move into an apartment in the city and put her house up for sale. She also leans heavily on the fact that she served in elected office in Racine for 14 years, grew up in Racine, has lived her whole life in the Racine area and now works on Racine's behalf with WHEDA.
If she runs, Plache will be a formidable opponent in the growing list of candidates. First, she's carried large swathes of the city in previous elections, and likely still has name recognition with voters. Second, she's tied into people who can raise money. The mayoral election is only six weeks long, so candidates don't have much time to build up a campaign fund. Third, she's not Gary Becker. A lot of candidates can claim that, but Plache may be the biggest voice to claim "outsider" status to City Hall.
It helps that she reportedly has some big names lining up behind her campaign. It'll be interesting to see who local state legislators support. It's hardly a secret that State Rep. Bob Turner, D-Racine, wants to run for the mayor's office, setting up a potential showdown with Plache. Where does that leave Democratic State Rep. Cory Mason and State Sen. John Lehman?