Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson cruises to primary win, advances to April 2 election

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Incumbent Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson cruised to a first-place finish in the mayoral primary Tuesday, advancing to the April 2 general election.

Johnson won 86% of the vote Tuesday night.

In a statement, Johnson said he was "filled with immense gratitude" for the results.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson moves forward to the April 2 election, when he will square off for a four-year term in office.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson moves forward to the April 2 election, when he will square off for a four-year term in office.

"This victory is not just mine; it is ours," he said. It is a testament to our collective belief in the power of unity, hard work, and a relentless commitment to progress. Together, we have made significant strides in making Milwaukee a safer, more prosperous, and inclusive city. Yet, our journey is far from over. There's more work to do, more dreams to fulfill, and more challenges to overcome."

Johnson will face Wisconsin God Squad founder David King, who received 10% of the vote to Ieshuh Griffin's 4%.

King in a statement late Tuesday framed the race as "David D. King vs Goliath," saying he was running not just against Johnson but also forces like the Democratic Party and the "mainstream media" that he said do not cover Johnson critically.

He called for solutions to the troubles at the Housing Authority of Milwaukee and for specifics on new laws Johnson would recommend to fight gun violence in the city.

Johnson is seeking a full four years in office after serving the final two years on the term of former Mayor Tom Barrett, who left office in December 2021 to become ambassador to Luxembourg. His departure meant that Johnson, then Common Council president, became acting mayor until the April 2022 election to fill the remainder of the term.

Unlike in 2022, when multiple candidates already in elected office jumped into the mayoral race, this year Johnson did not face anyone with previous experience in office or with a comparable campaign war chest or public platform.

The same is true for County Executive David Crowley, who is also facing a challenge from Griffin.

Some posited that the proven power of incumbency in Milwaukee coupled with Johnson's and Crowley's legislative accomplishments on issues such as the new local sales taxes led would-be challengers — and their would-be funders — to calculate that it's not worth taking on an expensive race to try to oust these incumbents.

According to their latest campaign finance reports, Johnson and Crowley had $363,966 and $251,552 cash on hand, respectively.

By comparison, King had $476 cash on hand. For both her city and county races, Griffin filed as exempt as the money raised for her campaign falls below the required threshold.

Ieshuh Griffin
Ieshuh Griffin

Griffin is also running for Common Council District 3 against Ald. Jonathan Brostoff.

Also on the primary ballot Tuesday were races for Common Council districts 5, 7 and 11 — the latter two without incumbents.

Alison Dirr can be reached at

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson cruises to primary win