MILWAUKEE – Former U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett (search) ended acting Mayor Marvin Pratt's (search) dream of becoming the city's first elected black mayor, winning a bitter contest marked by racial divisions and accusations of campaign finance violations.
In speeches delivered after results were in late Tuesday night, Barrett and Pratt both talked about the need to bring the community back together.
"We have to remember our diversity is our greatest strength," said Barrett, who won with about 54 percent of the vote. "I will unite our community."
Pratt, who got about 46 percent, told supporters they too have to work to bridge Milwaukee's racial divide.
"This is not the end of me," he said. "This is the beginning of a new campaign, of a new crusade."
The election became bitter after the February primary when reports surfaced about problems in Pratt's campaign finance reports.
He accused the media of unfair coverage. After civil charges were filed against him, he said the investigation was politically motivated.
Pratt, who ran on the slogan "It's Time," was charged last week 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 he said he will pay.
The primary reflected the city's racial division, with blacks coming out in support of Pratt, and whites and Hispanics for Barrett, who is white. Milwaukee's population is 50 percent white, 37 percent black, 12 percent Hispanic and 4 percent other groups, census figures show.
About 47 percent of voters turned out Tuesday, a bit less than expected, said Julietta Henry, executive director of Milwaukee's City Election Commission. She said the highest turnout was in two areas where the majority of residents are white.
Barrett repeatedly tried to use the investigation to his benefit, saying Pratt couldn't be trusted with a $1 billion budget.
Pratt admitted to carelessness in campaign finances and said he accepted responsibility for the mistakes.
Pratt became acting mayor in January when Mayor John Norquist (search) 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 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.