01/04/2018 05:58 EST | Updated 01/04/2018 06:00 EST

Giving Fidel Castro key to Wisconsin city flashpoint in race

MADISON, Wis. — The liberal mayor of Wisconsin's capital who is preparing a challenge to Republican Gov. Scott Walker is defending giving a key to the city to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Walker is making the 1975 decision by Madison Mayor Paul Soglin an early flashpoint in his re-election campaign.

Soglin is one of more than a dozen Democrats looking to run against Walker this year.

Soglin visited Cuba three times as mayor. He presented Castro with the key to the famously liberal city of Madison 42 years ago.

Walker says on Twitter that giving a "brutal Communist dictator who violated the human rights of his own people" the key to the city is "extremism even by Madison standards."

But Soglin says the trips taught him the value of "communication and understanding."