|44th Mayor of Milwaukee|
|Assumed office |
July 15, 2004
|Preceded by||John Norquist|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Wisconsin's 5th district
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2003
|Preceded by||Jim Moody|
|Succeeded by||Jim Sensenbrenner|
|Member of the Wisconsin Senate|
from the 5th district
December 13, 1989 – January 3, 1993
|Preceded by||Mordecai Lee|
|Succeeded by||Peggy Rosenzweig|
|Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly|
from the 14th district
January 7, 1985 – December 13, 1989
|Preceded by||Thomas Crawford|
|Succeeded by||David Cullen|
Thomas Mark Barrett
December 8, 1953
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Education||University of Wisconsin, Madison (BA, JD)|
Thomas Mark Barrett (born December 8, 1953) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has served as the 44th Mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin since 2004. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003, and the Wisconsin State Senate from 1989 to 1993. He previously served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1984 until 1989.
Early life, education, and early career
Barrett is the oldest son of Gertrude Virginia and Thomas J. Barrett, both of Irish descent. His father was a World War II veteran who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1944 for 30 missions over Germany as a navigator. His mother was a war widow when she met his father at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They married and moved to Milwaukee, where Barrett was born. He grew up on the city's west side.
Barrett graduated from Marquette University High School, and went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976; and his Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1980. He helped put himself through college and law school by working on the Harley-Davidson assembly line. After law school, Barrett served as a law clerk for Judge Robert W. Warren on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin from 1980 to 1982. He later entered into private practice and served as a bank examiner for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
State Assembly and Senate
Barrett made his first run for office at the age of 28 for the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1982, but was unsuccessful. He ran again in 1984, this time successfully, and served two terms before making a successful run for the Wisconsin State Senate in a December 1989 special election. He continued to serve in the State Senate until moving to higher office in 1993.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1992, after Congressman Jim Moody announced his intention to run for the United States Senate, Barrett successfully ran to succeed him. Barrett was reelected four more times to represent Wisconsin's 5th congressional district, which covered downtown and north Milwaukee.
While in Congress, Barrett served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as the Government Reform Committee, Financial Services Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and the House Administration Committee.
As a Congressman, Barrett worked with his colleagues to secure aid for flood remediation projects in his district. He also worked to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act, and frequently voiced his support of Milwaukee's Midwest Express Airlines.
Mayor of Milwaukee
In 2004, Barrett ran successfully for Mayor of Milwaukee, defeating incumbent Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, who took office following the resignation of John Norquist. Barrett was re-elected in 2008 with 79% of the vote, the largest percentage a Mayoral candidate had received in 40 years. In 2012 he was subsequently re-elected against challenger Edward McDonald with over 70% of the vote. In 2016, Barrett was re-elected with 70% of the vote over conservative 8th District Alderman Robert Donovan. In 2020, Barrett was reelected to a fifth term.
On February 25, 2009, Barrett gave his State of the City Address. Where he praised the city's past achievements and outlined his plan to increase green jobs, economic development and workforce training in the coming year. Barrett called on the citizens of Milwaukee to remain optimistic during the international economic downturn; "I am fully confident that Milwaukee will withstand the current economic downturn," Barrett said. "We will make smart investments, continue to build strong partnerships, provide training to our workforce and improve our public schools. We will emerge as a stronger and more competitive city."
Barrett met with Vice President of the United States Joe Biden and testified before the United States House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment when he traveled to Washington, D.C. on March 18, 2009. Barrett attended a White House Recovery and Reinvestment Act Implementation Conference hosted by Biden. The conference addressed questions from state, county, and local government officials on how to effectively oversee the spending of Recovery Act funds.
Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle and Mayor Tom Barrett, joined by Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin Elizabeth Burmaster, announced a broad effort improve the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). The announcement followed the completion of a comprehensive independent review of the finances and non-instructional operations of MPS commissioned by the Governor and Mayor in October 2008.
Mayor Barrett has enacted his vision for a greener Milwaukee through the formation of Milwaukee’s Green Team the establishment of Milwaukee’s Office of Sustainability. The Office of Sustainability promotes cost-effective environmental sustainability practices that meet Milwaukee’s urgent environmental, economic and social needs while enhancing long-term economic growth. He is also one of the region’s greatest champions for the Great Lakes and previously served as Co-Chair of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, an binational organization of mayors and other local officials that works actively to advance the protection and restoration of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.
Mayor Barrett led Milwaukee in its successful bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Barrett took a number of actions. On March 23, citing concerns of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Barrett sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers, State Senate Majority Leader Scott L. Fitzgerald and Speaker of the State House Robin Vos, requesting that the April 7 elections (including the mayoral election, as well as Wisconsin's presidential primaries and others races) be conducted using mail-in ballots only. Barrett lent his backing to a proposal authored by the Department of City Development under which business improvement districts would be allowed to spend money on assisting companies and property owners hurt by the pandemic without needing Common Council approval. Barrett lobbied the United States Army Corps of Engineers to establish a care facility at the Wisconsin State Fair Park.
Barrett decided to run for governor in 2002 when he decided to leave Washington D.C. after nearly a decade of service in the U.S. House of Representatives. He did so as a means spend more time in Milwaukee and Wisconsin with his family. In a heated Democratic primary, Barrett came in a close second to then-Attorney General Jim Doyle, who went on to win the general election.
In August 2009, Doyle announced his decision to not seek reelection to a third term in 2010, leading many to believe Barrett would run for governor. On August 25, a group named "Wisconsin for Tom Barrett" formed, encouraging Barrett to run. On October 26, a website, TomForGovernor.com, was launched after Barbara Lawton, the Lieutenant Governor, backed out. A story in The Politico reported that President Barack Obama's political director Patrick Gaspard met with Barrett on November 4, 2009, amid speculation that the White House wanted him to run for Governor of Wisconsin.
Barrett ended months of speculation by officially announcing on November 15, 2009, that he would enter the race for governor. Barrett's campaign raised more than $750,000 in its first seven weeks. In an e-mail thanking supporters, Barrett said his campaign had more than $1.5 million in the bank, a significant start given that he did not declare candidacy for the Democratic primary until November 15, 2009. Barrett ultimately lost the election to Scott Walker.
2012 recall election
After the contentious collective bargaining dispute, Walker's disapproval ratings varied between 50–51%, while his approval ratings varied between 47–49% in 2011. In a survey of 768 Wisconsin voters conducted between February 24–27, 2011, during the 2011 Wisconsin budget protests, a poll by Public Policy Polling found that 52% of respondents said they would vote for Barrett if the election had been held then, while 45% said they would vote for Walker. Wisconsin law made Walker eligible for recall beginning January 3, 2012, and the Wisconsin Democratic Party had called it a "priority" to remove him from office, although the signatures on the petitions were not verified.
Barrett ended months of speculation by officially announcing on March 30, 2012, that he would enter the race for governor. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which already supported another Democrat who had announced, had met with Barrett in late December 2011 and tried unsuccessfully to keep him from entering the race. On May 8, Barrett won the Democratic primary for the recall election.
A Marquette Law School Poll released on May 30 (mirroring other polling outlets) had Barrett trailing Walker 52-45% among likely voters. The results represent a six-point increase for Walker over Barrett since Marquette's earlier poll in late April. The poll's margin of error for likely voters was plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. Odysseas, a contributor to the progressive blog Daily Kos, had questioned if the Marquette University Law school poll oversampled "right wingers." For example, a poll by Public Policy Polling conducted May 11–13 gave Republicans a 7% edge over Democrats in terms of likely voters, unlikely given Wisconsin voter registration patterns. However, in retrospect the Marquette poll accurately reflected the Wisconsin electorate's vote. However, the same poll showed President Obama holding a lead over Mitt Romney 51-43. On May 21, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel endorsed Scott Walker over Barrett arguing "[there is] no reason to remove Walker from office." The Journal-Sentinel had previously endorsed Walker over Barrett in 2010. Walker defeated Barrett in the June 5 recall election by garnering 53.2%-46.3%, a greater victory margin than the 2010 election. Walker thus became the first Governor in US history to survive a recall election.
|Republican||Scott Walker (incumbent)||1,335,585||53.08%||-0.79%|
Barrett and his wife still live in Milwaukee's Washington Heights neighborhood, blocks away from his childhood home, where they raised their four, now adult, children Tommy, Annie, Erin, and Kate; who all attended Milwaukee German Immersion School.
2009 Wisconsin State Fair attack
Barrett was the subject of national news headlines when he was attacked outside the Wisconsin State Fair on August 15, 2009, by a man wielding a pipe. Barrett and some family members were leaving the fair when he responded to a woman's cries for help. They encountered a man and a woman in a heated confrontation and, while the mayor called police, the man, 20-year-old Anthony J. Peters, attacked him with a pipe. Barrett was hospitalized after the incident and again later for reconstructive surgery for his hand. Governor Jim Doyle visited Barrett in the hospital the next morning and said he "found him to be in good spirits and looking good considering what happened... The Mayor's heroic actions clearly saved a woman and others from harm", Doyle said in a statement. Peters was arrested the next day. Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden telephoned Barrett in the hospital to inquire as to his condition; Obama told Barrett that he went above the call of duty and said he was proud of Barrett's actions. Barrett's injuries included broken teeth, a permanently damaged hand, and blows to the head where he was struck with the pipe. Peters plead guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison and a further 10 years of supervision.
US House of Representatives
|1992||Tom Barrett||Democratic||57%||Donalda Ann Hammersmith||Republican||43%|
|1994||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||58%||Stephen Hollingshead||Republican||42%|
|1996||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||67%||Paul D. Melotik||Republican||33%|
|1998||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||73%||Jack Melvin||Republican||27%|
|2000||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||72%||Johnathan Smith||Republican||28%|
Mayor of Milwaukee
|2004||Tom Barrett||Democratic||54%||Marvin Pratt||Democratic||46%|
|2008||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||79%||Andrew Shaw||Independent||20%|
|2012||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||70%||Edward C. McDonald||Independent||29%|
|2016||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||70%||Robert Donovan||Republican||30%|
|2020||Tom Barrett (inc.)||Democratic||63%||Lena Taylor||Democratic||37%|
|Scott Walker (inc.)||Republican||53%||Tom Barrett||Democratic||46%|
|Tom Barrett||Democratic||58%||Kathleen Falk||Democratic||34%|
|Scott Walker||Republican||52%||Tom Barrett||Democratic||47%|
|Tom Barrett||Democratic||91%||Tim John||Democratic||10%|
|Jim Doyle||Democratic||38%||Tom Barrett||Democratic||34%||Kathleen Falk||Democratic||27%|
- Fresh Coast – term coined by Tom Barrett
- List of mayors of the 50 largest cities in the United States
- Zapple doctrine − role in 2012 campaign
- "Mayor Barrett's Biography". City of Milwaukee. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2012.
- Barrett, Tom (October 30, 2010). "Needed: A straight shooter and a real record". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
- "Mayor Barrett's Biography". City of Milwaukee. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- Olson, Drew (July 19, 2007). "Happy B-Day, Hilltoppers: Marquette High turns 150". On Milwaukee.
- Spicuzza, Mary (April 29, 2012). "Tom Barrett: Milwaukee mayor wants to end 'civil war'". Wisconsin State Journal.
- "Members of State Legislature". State of Wisconsin 1985-1986 blue book: Biographies and pictures. p. 31. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- David E. Umhoefer (December 13, 1989). "Barrett wins easily in State Senate race". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Members of the State Legislature". State of Wisconsin 1991-1992 blue book: Biographies and photos. p. 30. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- James B. Nelson (November 4, 1992). "Barrett easily defeats Hammersmith in 5th". Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Tom Barrett". NNDB. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "The House Committee on Energy and Commerce: Welcome". Archives.energycommerce.house.gov. Archived from the original on July 8, 2010. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- "Legislation could benefit Midwest Express". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. October 15, 1998.
- "Congressman Tom Barrett - At Work for Wisconsin". Webarchives.loc.gov. Archived from the original on December 12, 2002. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- Lawrence Kestenbaum. "Index to Politicians: Barre to Barrett". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Mayor Barrett's Biography". city of Milwaukee, Office of the Mayor. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Tom Barrett re-elected as Milwaukee mayor". Associated Press. April 3, 2012.
- "April 2016 Wisconsin presidential primary and spring election results". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
- Dirr, Alison (April 13, 2020). "Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett easily wins reelection in race against Lena Taylor". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
- "Mayor Barrett Delivers 2011 State of the City Address". Office of Mayor Tom Barrett. City of Milwaukee. February 21, 2011. Archived from the original on October 17, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Toward a Stronger Milwaukee Public Schools: Message from Governor Jim Doyle and Mayor Tom Barrett" (PDF). Milwaukee Public Schools. April 2009 – via The Bay View Compass.
- "Hey, Put Your Twitter Where Your Mouth Is". socialmediaexplorer.com. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- "Milwaukee mayor suggests April 7 election be modified to 'vote by mail'". FOX6Now.com. WITI. March 24, 2020. Retrieved April 1, 2020.
- Silver, Maayan (March 31, 2020). "Milwaukee Mayoral Candidate Lena Taylor Says Inequality Is The Main Thing We Need To Change". www.wuwm.com. WUWM. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
- Dirr, Alison (April 2, 2020). "Milwaukee officials ask for coronavirus care facility to be built on State Fair grounds". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
- Schultze, Steve; Walters, Steven (September 14, 2002). "Mayor, county executive races hold little appeal, Barrett says". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Lee Bergquist; et al. (August 15, 2009). "Doyle won't seek re-election in 2010". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "New Group Supports Tom Barrett For Governor". WISN Milwaukee. August 25, 2009. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Wisconsin Governor Race: 15-year-old Sheboygan Democrat gathers online support for possible Barrett campaign". WITI. Fox6now.com. November 4, 2009. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved July 12, 2010.
- Alexander Burns and Carol E. Lee (November 15, 2009). "Gaspard, Barrett meet amid 2010 buzz". Politico. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Lee Bergquist (November 14, 2009). "Barrett says he's healed, ready to run for governor". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Scott Anderson (January 6, 2010). "Barrett's gubernatorial campaign shows financial muscle despite late start". Racine Journal Times. Wisconsin State Journal. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Governor's Race: Walker Beats Barrett[dead link]
- "Election 2010; Wisconsin". nytimes.com. New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2018.
- Recall Election Tests Strategies for November April 28, 2012
- Marley, Patrick (September 20, 2011). "New poll reflects divide on bargaining limits". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- "Wisconsin Recall Prospects Dimming". Public Policy Polling. October 26, 2011. Retrieved January 21, 2012.
- "Wisconsin Rematch Survey Results February 24–27" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 10, 2011. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Jon Terbush (February 28, 2011). "Poll: Wisconsin Voters Wouldn't Elect Gov. Walker In Do-Over". TPMDC. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Barrett announces run in Wisconsin recall". POLITICO. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- "Labor group's pro-Falk TV ads vanish". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Bauer, Scott (May 9, 2012). "Milwaukee mayor to face Walker in Wis. Recall". Associated Press.[permanent dead link]
- "Marquette Law School Poll finds Walker leads Barrett in Wisconsin recall". Marquette University Law School. May 30, 2012.
- "Scott Walker leads new Wisconsin recall poll". ABC News. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- "Marquette poll on Wisconsin Recall oversampling right wingers?!". Daily Kos.
- "We recommend Walker; his removal isn't justified". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Terkel, Amanda (June 5, 2012). "Scott Walker Defeats Tom Barrett In Wisconsin Recall Election (UPDATE)". Huffington Post.
- Chuck Johnston. "Arrest made in attack on Milwaukee mayor". CNN. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- "Barrett lost teeth in battle with suspect". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. August 17, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2011.
- Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. "Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives". house.gov. Retrieved January 25, 2015.
- "Wisconsin Gubernatorial Primary Results". Politico. September 14, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010.
Media related to Tom Barrett (politician) at Wikimedia Commons
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 5th congressional district
| Mayor of Milwaukee
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin