Wisconsin's largest police union has endorsed Democratic candidate Tom Barrett in the upcoming gubernatorial recall elections.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, which has more than 10,000 members, announced its endorsement on Tuesday. The announcement is a big boost for Barrett, who does not have as many union endorsements as his primary rival Kathleen Falk. Falk has won the support of an array of environmental groups, liberal women's organizations, and a number of unions, including AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, and the state's largest teacher's union, WEAC.

Other Democratic challengers include state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, and Secretary of State Doug La Follette.

The WPPA said it evaluated each of the candidates based on their records and the strength of their campaigns, and praised Barrett for his "energetic, independent, and ethical approach" in his bid to unseat Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Barrett said he was proud to have the support of "men and women who put their lives on the line every single day."

The Walker campaign promptly fired back, accusing Barrett of not making public safety a priority.

"Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has consistently and unapologetically failed the people of his city by refusing to invest the necessary resources to make public safety a priority in his administration,” Walker spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said.

But the Barrett campaign pointed to statistics that showed a 23 percent drop in violent crime in Milwaukee since 2007, and a relatively steady budget for police in recent years.

The winner of the May 8 primary will face off against Walker in a June 5 general recall election.

  • State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal

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