By Dave Begel Contributing Writer Published Apr 12, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Everybody who's in is already in and now it's time to buckle our collective seat belts and get ready for a wild ride the State of Wisconsin has rarely seen.

The candidates for governor have lined up. And we can throw away all the fringe candidates. This is a three-horse race, soon to become a two-horse, two-month race.

Either Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett or former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk will win the right to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in an incredibly expensive race to the mansion in Madison.

Falk or Barrett, whoever loses, will finally be put out to pasture. Either one will have become a three-time loser in a statewide race. Like California, we have a three strikes and you're out rule in politics.

The first election in this process will be May 8, less than a month away. It will be a primary in the race for governor and maybe a primary in several of the State Senate recalls.

That time period also coincides with the May sweeps on television, which runs from April 26 to May 23. A sweeps month is when the networks trot out all their special stuff, including new episodes of regular shows in an attempt to build high ratings which allows stations to charge the most for advertising time.

So we are going to have the confluence of the best television programming along with an onslaught of political advertising. It's possible that there will be people who will actually live in front of their TV sets for the entire month.

This is going to be a tough election to figure out.

On the Democratic side, both Barrett and Falk are running against each other by trying to prove who is the "most against Scott Walker." These two aren't going to take too many shots at each other, thereby bringing us what may well be the most civil campaign in recent history.

In order to win an election in Wisconsin as a Democrat you need union support. Right now the big public employee unions have pledged their support to Falk. But if Barrett wins, which is likely, they will have to play an active role in order to give him a chance to beat Walker.

One problem for Democrats here is that they are going to be running against something. They won't have much of a program filled with ideas to advance. It was repulsion at Walker that started this whole thing and the Democrats think they can ride that wave right into the governor's office.

Walker, of course, is going to run on the claim that he has moved Wisconsin forward. Even if the map has some detours, the direction is going forward. Democrats, he will argue, are trying to just take us "back to the future."

Walker is also going to have the proverbial pot of gold to use. It is virtually impossible to figure out how much money he has and how bottomless his Super Pac is going to be. I think national Republicans think this is a much more crucial election that national Democrats do.

So, let's combine passionate emotion, a compressed time frame, clear differences in ideology, energetic supporters, higher than normal television ratings and riches that put Warren Buffett to shame and we are in for two months that may well be unparalleled in Wisconsin history.

Let's strap in and hold on tight, it's going to be quite a ride.

Dave Begel Contributing Writer

With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.

He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.

This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.

Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.