Now that recall organizers have handed in more than one million signed petitions to cue a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker, several Democratic candidates are jumping at the opportunity to square off against the controversial conservative leader.
Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, seen as a strong union proponent, officially launched her campaign Wednesday. State Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, also confirmed he will be running, but said he won't make a public announcement for several weeks, allowing time to organize his campaign and raise funds.
Several other names also are being floated, including that of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl. He's a well-known commodity in Wisconsin, as he's been in Senate since 1989 and owns the Milwaukee Bucks, but last year said he would not being seeking office again in 2012.
When asked, Kohl spokespersons have told various media outlets he will not be running for Governor.
Regardless of who is in or who is out, if there is more than one Democratic candidate, there will need to be a springtime primary to whittle down the field. The winner of that primary would then face Gov. Walker in the general election.
Despite what's being seen in the circus-like media coverage of the Republic party's quest to find a challenger to President Barack Obama - various candidates exchanging jabs and launching attack ads against one another - the Democratic Party of Wisconsin is insisting a primary process will not dilute its mission to remove Walker from office.
Having multiple, strongly-qualified choices "will amplify our message," said party spokesman Graeme Zielinski. "Whatever candidate emerges from the process, which will be good for the party, will be victorious."
Cullen, a 67-year-old moderate who has spent extensive time in both the public and private sectors, said he has the perspective and experience to lead Wisconsin.
"People are going to be asked for the first time in history to recall their governor," Cullen said in a phone interview. "I've been around state government. I've been an executive in the private sector. I'll be ready to go from day one."
If elected, Cullen said he would continue his efforts to reach across the aisle but would also stand as a strong backer of union collective bargaining rights.
Cullen is broadly viewed as moderate. He worked under former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson as secretary of state Department of Health and Human Services. This summer, he and fellow state senator Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, toured each other's districts in a bipartisan effort.
"That is who I am," Cullen said. "I can't change who I am now, and I don't intend to."
Despite talk of neutral stances, Cullen did have several criticisms of Gov. Walker. As a leader, Cullen said he would talk and negotiate with his employees rather than be forceful, as he said Walker was.
"I believe in collective bargaining. I would like to see collective bargaining restored."
He also attacked Walker's Voter ID bill and his "failed" job creation record. Taking a play from the GOP play book and knocking Walker's statements about creating a quarter-million jobs in his first term, Cullen said, "the truth is, it's not the Governor's job to create jobs," stating employment trends are dictated by supply and demand.
And despite Cullen's advanced age - he is more than 20 years older than Walker - he said he has the energy to carry out a campaign.
"Absolutely I have the energy. Otherwise I wouldn't do it," he said.