Milwaukee mayor race 2022, Bob Donovan falls short after 2016 defeat

Voters in Milwaukee elected Cavalier Johnson as the city's first new mayor in 18 years Tuesday, April 5. Johnson defeated challenger Bob Donovan, former Milwaukee alderman.

Donovan watched the results come in at McKiernan's Irish Pub, a bar in his former aldermanic district on Milwaukee's south side.

Everyone in the pub cheered when Donovan arrived around 6:30 p.m. He was overheard telling a supporter, "It's in God's hands now. Whatever happens, I'm OK with it." The supporter responded, "Well, you know what happened with David and Goliath."

Donovan has said he was aware he was the underdog in the race. Johnson beat Donovan by 20 points in February's primary. Johnson's campaign also spent almost four times more than the Donovan campaign. 

Despite the odds against them, the atmosphere at McKiernan's was hopeful as 8 p.m. drew near. Donovan later delivered a concession speech, thanking his supporters.

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Earlier Tuesday, Donovan said he was feeling anxious, ready for it to be time for the polls to close. Donovan is certainly not new to that Election Day anxiety. He served 20 years as an alderman for the city's 8th District. 

In 2016, Donovan ran for mayor against Tom Barrett. Barrett won that race with 70% of the vote. 

FOX6 News asked Donovan if Tuesday felt any different from Election Day 2016.

"There’s really no comparison," said Donovan. "The campaign in 2016 and the campaign in 2022, just total opposites. I think we had one candidate forum in 2016. I think this year we had eight. Just a lot of energy, a lot of volunteers that have stepped forward."

One thing that was similar to 2016 is that Donovan ran as a conservative alternative to Johnson.

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