In an announcement that has been expected for over a month now, Gov. Scott Walker tweeted this morning that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States. A traditional campaign rally was held later in the afternoon at a convention hall in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha.
— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) July 13, 2015
Walker, 47, is the 15th Republican candidate to announce a presidential bid. Two more candidates are expected to join the G.O.P. field before the first debate is held at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena in early August.
“America needs new, fresh leadership with big, bold ideas”, Walker said in his announcement video. “In Wisconsin, we didn’t nibble around the edges . . . In the Republican field, there are some who are good fighters, but they haven’t won those battles.”
Wisconsin’s governor has won three gubernatorial elections in the past four years, including a 2012 recall election after signing anti-union legislation to curtain a $3 billion budget deficit that his administration inherited. The reforms cut benefits for public-sector employees by forcing them to pay more into individual pension and health insurance plans.
To that end, the following tweet came from the president of the AFL-CIO, after Gov. Walker stated his intention to seek the highest office in the land:
My full statement on Scott Walker’s upcoming announcement that he’s running for president: “Scott Walker is a national disgrace.”
— Richard L. Trumka (@RichardTrumka) July 13, 2015
Indeed, Gov. Walker’s four and half years in office has been fraught with conservative reforms in a traditionally Democratic and pro-union state. Most recently in March, he signed ‘right-to-work’ legislation which makes it illegal to require private-sector employees to join the associated union.
At the afternoon rally, Walker touted some of the lesser known right-wing victories of his administration which include the following: $2 billion in income tax cuts, lower property taxes, cuts to public higher education ($250 million taken out of University of Wisconsin’s budget), legalization of concealed weapons, stricter abortion laws, photo I.D. requirement to vote, drug tests for welfare recipients, and enhanced private school vouchers.
A conservative foreign policy theme was also shared by Walker this afternoon, as the governor emphasized his willingness to change America’s policy on ground troops in Iraq to combat ISIS, in order to “take the fight to them (rather) than wait for them to bring the fight to us.”
While some may point to Walker’s strong conservative record and ‘far-right’ rhetoric as a reason to disqualify him as a serious contender in the general election, an average of the polls by Real Clear Politics shows that the governor is within a single digit spread in a hypothetical match-up with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
More importantly, Walker currently polls second among Republican contenders nationally and enjoys a solid eight point lead over Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul in an average of the latest Iowa Caucus polls.
In New Hampshire, Walker is polling third behind Bush and Donald Trump, and is a close second behind Bush in South Carolina.
Financially, Walker’s campaign is doing a solid job keeping up with all other G.O.P. hopefuls besides Bush (who has raised over $100 million to date). According to anonymous sources with inside knowledge of the governor’s fundraising, two of Walker’s Super PACs have raised $20 million so far, putting him on par with Sen. Marco Rubio ($16 million), and Rand Paul ($7 million).
Tomorrow, the governor will begin a campaign tour with stops in the swing-state of Nevada, as well as in the early primary states of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Iowa.
[USA Today] [AP] [RealClearPolitics]