Wisconsin governor – and role model for our own governor Bruce Rauner – Scott Walker isn’t looking to soften his stance on issues that made him a conservative darling, if he runs for President in 2016.
At least, that’s what Walker said during a fundraiser for the group, Tea Party Patriots, Monday.
After spending the weekend in crucial presidential primary state New Hampshire, Walker seemed more convinced than ever that he should stick to his guns and stay to the far right in order to find continued electoral success. “To win the center,” Walker assessed during a tele-town hall meeting to raise funds for the TPP, “you don’t have to go to the center – you have to lead.”
More than likely, Walker isn’t too concerned with “winning the center” quite just yet, however. The Wisconsin governor’s main apparent rival for the 2016 Republican party nomination is former Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of former two-term president George W., and son of former one-term president George HW.
Though his family is Republican Party royalty that has found success in many regions, as well as nationally, Bush has been criticized by the most extreme and vocal members of his party for supposedly being too centrist on issues like immigration and education. Enter Scott Walker – the far right’s next great hope.
Winning a general presidential election is miles away for Walker or anyone else at this point. What he needs to do to even be in that position as the GOP nominee is rouse enough excitement and support among highly motivated activists and voters.
The best way to do that, after what will be eight years of Tea Party archenemy Barack Obama rule in the White House, is for Walker to energize his base of far-right supporters. Those who already love him, do because they love his anti-regulation, anti-union profile, and stubborn resolve.
The governor is likely betting that his party is in no mood for some milquetoast republican, and want someone as loud, angry and motivated as they are for change. Walker has good reason for confidence.
In just five years as governor, he’s already survived near-political death experiences, and did so by digging in his heels, not by relenting. Take, for example, his moves to strip away collect-bargaining rights for public employees almost immediately after taking office in 2010.
Walker was recalled by voters and forced to essentially win his job back, after that move. He did, against an urban leader in Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett in 2012.
Then, with approval numbers among republicans in his state at around 90%, and support among democrats in Wisconsin in the single digits, he defeated democratic nominee Mary Burke last fall to win re-election. Walker raised $30 million dollars in the last eighteen months of that election, alone.
His extreme-right stances have won Walker deep campaign coffers, and three state-wide elections in four years. Walker may say he has a plan to “win the center,” but his career lessons thus far have likely taught him that he doesn’t need them.