Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire announces run for governor

Capitol in Madison

MADISON — A Democratic legislator from northwestern Wisconsin announced Monday that he’ll challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker next year.

Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire announced Monday that he’ll enter the race. Two other Democrats — Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik and political newcomer Bob Harlow — have already announced their candidacies.

Other Democrats who have registered campaign committees but not yet committed to running include state Superintendent Tony Evers, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, political activist Mike McCabe and former state Rep. Brett Hulsey, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014.

The 59-year-old Wachs holds a law degree from Valparaiso University and served three years on the Eau Claire City Council. He was elected to the Assembly in 2012 and currently sits on the chamber’s university, judiciary and transportation committees. Democrats haven’t held a majority in the Assembly since he was first elected, relegating Wachs mostly to the sidelines.

Campaign finance reports show his Assembly campaign committee raised $41,190 over the first six months of the year. He had $13,497 on hand at the end of June. Harlow raised $8,324 and had $650 on hand. The Wisconsin Elections Commission website didn’t show any filings for Gronik, who joined the race in mid-July.

Walker’s committee raised $3.5 million over the period and had $2.4 million on hand.

Alec Zimmerman, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, issued a statement Monday calling Wachs a liberal trial attorney. Zimmerman criticized him for representing a UW-Eau Claire student who sued the Board of Regents in 1993 after a classroom stool she was sitting on collapsed. The case was eventually dismissed.