Former Wisconsin commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive Mary Burke has officially entered the race for governor.
Burke, a Democrat, made the announcement Monday. The Harvard-educated businesswoman worked for Trek, a company her father founded in 1976, in a variety of capacities, including as its director of European operations, helping to start and oversee companies in seven countries.
"I know that Wisconsin workers can compete with anyone in the world. That's why when you look around at places like Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio, whose economies are creating more jobs than ours, you wonder what the heck's going on?" Burke said in a video announcing her candidacy.
"Wisconsin ranks 45th out of 50 states in projected job growth. We're fifth from the bottom. I'm running for Governor because we can do better than that. A lot better. But to do it, we've got to make some real changes in Madison," she said.
Many see Burke as the most viable Democratic candidate for governor because she can use her personal wealth to fuel her campaign and combat Walker's fundraising prowess. The governor reported raising $3.5 million in the first half of this year.
Burke left Trek in 2005, when then-Gov. Jim Doyle tapped her to serve as Commerce Department secretary, a position she held for two years.
Burke also served as president of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County for nine years, and along with the Burke Foundation, she has donated about $2.6 million to the district's AVID/TOPS program. She also donated $2.5 million in 2011 to help start a Madison charter school, which the school board ultimately decided not to open.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker is seeking re-election in 2014 after winning the governor's office in 2010 and surviving a recall last year. His campaign planned to issue a statement later Monday.