Scott Walker Considering 2016 Run?

Scott Walker, Governor

Image courtesy of Scott Walker for Governor website.

Scott Walker Considering 2016 Run?
| published January 28, 2015 |

By Thursday Review staff


The list of potential Republican candidates for President just keeps getting longer. In January, at least three top-tier hopefuls have taken steps widely regarded as significant in their quest for the White House in 2016.

On New Year’s Eve, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush stepped down from his directorships and board memberships of several businesses and non-profits, and severed his ties to other firms. Days later, he announced the formation of a political action committee (PAC), called Right to Rise. Bush is already actively meeting with volunteers and donors, raising money, and making long-range plans for campaign development. Within a week, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, himself a veteran of two presidential campaigns, went from dropping hints to telling audiences outright that he was strongly considering a run for the White House in 2016. Romney has been meeting with donors and with strategists.

This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, coming off his one year term as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, announced the formation of his own PAC, called Leadership Matters for America. Christie has not only already begun the all-important process of raising cash, but he has also already hired political pros to manage his on-the-ground operations in Iowa and New Hampshire, and has brought on board at least one full-time political fundraiser.

And over the weekend, several top GOP contenders met at a California candidates’ forum hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. Among those attending the meeting were Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The Koch Brothers are contributors of hefty sums of cash to Republican and conservative causes, and the appearances by Rubio and Paul indicate that the two Senators are continuing to look closely as a run in 2016.

And though it may be important to point out that so far none of these potential contenders has officially announced their candidacies, the ranks of the virtual-candidates just got bigger with the creation this week of Our American Revival, a PAC organized by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who now also appears to be only weeks away from making a decision to run.

Walker’s PAC rolled out a new website, and Walker volunteers went to work immediately exploring sources of financing and support.

Walker has been watched closely by reporters for some months, but attention has grown within the last week after his appearance at a Republican forum in Iowa. Walker’s address to the Iowan’s was widely regarded as a bell-ringer, and his speech—according to journalists who have seen it—sounded very much like that of a man already running for President. The speech had attracted attention and proved he may be capable of sharing the stage in future debates with heavyweight contenders like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Rand Paul and others.

Republicans have about as wide open a road as any seen in more than a generation. The number of well-known and well-established candidates has swelled, partly on the wave of goodwill the GOP believe it earned in the 2014 midterm elections, when scores of new Republicans won Senate and House races, and the GOP surged to its biggest legislative majority in more than 50 years. And others in the GOP see likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as vulnerable; the presumed front-runner deployed her resources and personality to scores of Democratic campaigns in November 2014, only to watch as many of those candidates lost to Republicans at the polls.

Walker has had a newsworthy tenure as governor of Wisconsin. In early 2011—facing massive budget problems and recessionary pressures—he battled with public employee unions and organized labor over whether state and city employees have the right to collective bargaining. Despite a high-profile, nationally-watched firefight over the issue, Walker prevailed, but then faced so much anger that he had to endure a statewide recall election in 2012. Pro-Walker and Anti-Walker money and resources flowed in from around the country. Early predictions were widespread that he would fail to win that recall election, but in the end he prevailed, making him a hero to many conservatives across the country and immediately raising the possibility that he would seek higher office.

If Walker were to run for President in 2016, he would join other conservatives of varying shades and stripes in a field already crowded with the faithful of the Right, including Texas Governor Rick Perry—often the subject of discussion when the question of 2016 comes up—and Congressman Ted Cruz, viewed as the favorite of the Tea Party movement. Other social conservatives have expressed interest in 2016, including past presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee. Both Rand Paul and Marco Rubio would also pull strongly from the most conservative wings of the party.

Governor Walker’s newly-formed committee is, technically, not exactly the same type of “leadership” PAC as those formed recently by Bush and Christie. Walker’s political vehicle is what is called a “527” entity, which merely allows him to raise political cash using specific forms of tax-exemption, as allowed by law. But if Walker’s candidacy is going to eventually morph into something larger, he will likely later form a traditional PAC for fundraising purposes.

Walker is likely to be popular with younger Republicans who might be otherwise wary of a rerun of a Romney candidacy, or skeptical of either Chris Christie or Jeb Bush.

Scott Walker was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1993, where he was elected to three additional terms. Running as a reformer with the goal of cleaning up widespread corruption, he was elected Country Executive of Milwaukee in 2002—the first Republican ever to hold that office.

For trivia buffs and history fans, Walker also holds the distinction of being the only governor to have survived a recall challenge.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Christie Closer to Candidacy?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; January 28, 2015.

Romney Considering 2016 Bid?; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; January 11, 2015.