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Milwaukee County exec Abele says he won’t run for governor

Democratic Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said he “definitely” will not be running for governor in 2018, putting to bed rumors that he was considering mounting a bid after hiring a prominent party official.

Abele told The Associated Press he felt compelled to deny speculation he might run so it wouldn’t impair his ability to work with both Democrats and Republicans in Milwaukee. Abele also is running for a second term as county executive next year.

“I am definitely not running for governor,” said Abele, 48. “Not that I ever made any noise about it, but others have.”

Talk of Abele possibly preparing for a gubernatorial run has spiked since he hired former state Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate on Aug. 24 and followed that up by hiring the party’s communications director Melissa Baldauff.

Abele said he hired Tate as a political consultant because he had known him for years and Baldauff came highly recommended. Baldauff, who had worked for the state party for two years, will take a similar job with Abele.

Abele succeeded Scott Walker as county executive in 2011. Walker, the Republican governor now running for president, is up for re-election as governor in 2018. Walker has not said whether he will seek a third term should his presidential aspirations fizzle.

Abele is up for re-election in April.

Abele joked when asked whether he could change his mind about a gubernatorial run.

“In the same way I suppose I could become an astronaut or hit the winning shot for the Bucks it’s possible,” he said, laughing. And, just for good measure, he further joked that the only way he would consider a run is “if the capital is moved to Milwaukee.”

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