MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout announced Friday that she won’t seek the Democratic nomination for governor, saying a severe injury she suffered in a car accident last month would prevent her from mounting an effective campaign.
Vinehout said in a statement the bone in her upper right arm splintered and that she needs to spend so much time rehabilitating the arm that she wouldn’t be able to front “the intense, grass roots campaign that I want to run and would be necessary to win.”
Vinehout, of Alma, had been exploring a possible gubernatorial run until the accident. Her decision leaves former Trek Bicycle Corp. executive Mary Burke and Marcia Mercedes Perkins of Milwaukee, who quietly declared her candidacy on Monday, as the only two Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November.
Burke currently sits on the Madison school board. Many see her as the most viable candidate because she can use her personal wealth to fund her campaign and counter Walker’s formidable fundraising efforts. Burke’s campaign said earlier this month that she had raised nearly $1.8 million since she entered the race on Oct. 7, including $400,000 of her own money. Burke, Mercedes Perkins and Walker must submit their 2013 fundraising totals to the state by Jan. 31.
Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate said in August that he believed Burke would be the front-runner in any Democratic primary. He issued a statement Friday saying Vinehout remains a “vital force” in the party.
“Without question, Wisconsin is a better place with Kathleen Vinehout in public service, and we look forward to hearing her strong progressive voice around the state as she continues her recovery,” Tate said.
Wisconsin Republican Party spokesman Jesse Dougherty issued a statement accusing Democrats of trying to push Vinehout out of the race in favor of a “Madison millionaire.”
Tate said Republicans were making a “callous” attempt to score political points by suggesting Vinehout’s decision was based on anything besides her recovery.
Burke issued a statement through her campaign saying Vinehout’s ideas will make Wisconsin stronger and wishing her a full recovery.
Mercedes Perkins said she was in a meeting Friday and not available to talk.
Vinehout faces re-election to the Senate this November. Her husband, Douglas Kane, said she anticipates running again but no final decision has been made.
It’s unclear how her injury might affect that campaign. Messages left at her campaign office, state Capitol office and at her home weren’t immediately returned.