Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who was a far-right favorite early in the Trump era, has not ruled out taking on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin in this swing state. A Clarke spokesperson told The Daily Beast’s Sam Brodey, “Clarke would never take anything off the table as it relates to his future.” A Democratic operative told Brodey in response, “Could it be a grift and he’s trying to make a buck? Absolutely,” before acknowledging, “It doesn’t mean he’s not considering running. It’s as real as anyone else.”
Clarke, who’d won four terms as sheriff as a nominal Democrat, decided not to challenge Baldwin as a Republican six years ago, though only after he’d spent months keeping everyone guessing about his plans. Clarke, who was mired in lawsuits and investigations over his abusive, if not murderous, treatment of prisoners, instead resigned from office later in the year before taking over as head of a pro-Trump super PAC. He was out of that role by 2019, when the family of an inmate who’d died of “profound dehydration” in one of his jails reached a $6.75 million settlement with Milwaukee County and a health care company.
Clarke resumed his role as a Trump surrogate and said right after the 2020 election, “We need a chapter of the Proud Boys right here in Wisconsin because they're the only ones with the courage to get in the face of Black Lives Matter.” (Clarke is Black.) The former sheriff, who has continued to spread far-right lies every chance he gets, was also on the advisory board for Steve Bannon’s We Build the Wall crowdfunding group, an effort that federal prosecutors say was Bannon’s vehicle for defrauding donors.
By Clarke's standards, this has actually been, in Brodey’s words, “a few relatively quiet years,” though he sought to reemerge on the scene Monday with a podcast where he delivered a 30-minute rant calling the Republican Party “a mess.”