Former Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Matt Flynn said Tuesday he's running for governor because the state's progressive traditions are being "obliterated" by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Flynn, a 70-year-old retired attorney, said in a campaign launch video and at stops in Milwaukee and Madison that President Donald Trump has corrupted the government and is dividing the country.
Flynn also promised to roll back some of Walker's most significant accomplishments, including the law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers.
Flynn is one of eight Democrats who have launched campaigns to challenge Walker, and several others are still considering getting in. The Democratic nominee will be picked at an August primary to face Walker, who's expected to formally launch his campaign for a third term next month.
Undoing Walker's legacy would require a willing Legislature, but Republicans currently have large majorities. Flynn stressed that a Democrat must win election in 2018 to be in control when political boundaries are redrawn following the 2020 census.
Flynn accused Walker of being controlled by corporate donors and said he had been "taken to the cleaners" on the $3 billion incentive package for electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group, which plans to open a factory in southeast Wisconsin.
If the Taiwan company invests $10 billion and hires 13,000 people, it will receive $2.85 billion in cash payments from the state. But the deal signed by Walker, and approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature, also waives environmental regulations to speed construction of the facility in Racine County.
Flynn faulted Walker for not having any guarantees for minimum job creation or wages and for exempting Foxconn from water regulations. The state jobs agency is still negotiating a final contract with Foxconn.
Walker's campaign manager, Joe Fadness, did not immediately respond to Flynn's comments. Alec Zimmerman, spokesman for the Wisconsin Republican Party, called Flynn a "flawed" candidate, noting his legal work more than a decade ago for the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee in cases alleging sexual abuse.
"Matt Flynn is a dirty defense attorney who has built a career on defending special interests and those who prey on Wisconsin families," Zimmerman said.
Flynn, after a campaign launch event at a Madison labor hall, said he was proud to have represented the archdiocese and that since he started representing the church it had not transferred any priests accused of wrongdoing.
Flynn is a retired partner with the Quarles and Brady law firm. He previously ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1986 and 1988 and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978 and 2004. Flynn said his age and experience would be an asset in prosecuting the case against Walker.
"I have plenty of gas left in the tank, I really do," Flynn said.
Flynn called for adequately funding the University of Wisconsin System and public K-12 schools, accepting the federal Medicaid money, paying for needed road repairs and ensuring there are "fair wages" paid all across the state.