MILWAUKEE – Just days after being accused of campaign finance violations, acting Mayor Marvin Pratt (search) faced a white former congressman Tuesday in an election that could make him the first black elected mayor of Milwaukee.
The election was a hotly contested one that appeared split among racial lines between Pratt and former five-term Rep. Tom Barrett (search), both Democrats.
A poll conducted just before the campaign finance charges were filed showed Pratt and Barrett each with 44 percent of the vote. Pratt was supported by 88 percent of blacks and 20 percent of whites, while Barrett drew 66 percent of the white vote and 7 percent of the black vote.
Milwaukee's population is 50 percent white, 37 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic and 4 percent other groups, census figures show.
Last month, District Attorney Michael McCann (search) charged Pratt with four civil counts of filing a false campaign finance report and another of failing to deposit personal campaign contributions in a campaign account. He faces a forfeiture of $2,500, which Pratt said he will pay.
During the campaign, Barrett repeatedly tried to use the investigation to his benefit — creating television and radio ads questioning Pratt's abilities. He also painted himself as an agent of change while saying Pratt could not be trusted with a $1 billion budget.
Meanwhile, Pratt blamed Barrett for prompting the investigation. Barrett has denied the accusation.
Pratt became acting mayor in January when Mayor John Norquist left four months early after 16 years as mayor for a job in Chicago in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal and an admission that he had an extramarital affair.
Pratt and Barrett beat eight others in the February primary to advance to Tuesday's general election.
Pratt has been an alderman of a largely black district since 1987. Barrett served five terms in Congress before leaving in 2002 when he made an unsuccessful bid for governor.