The frontrunners for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination — Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — are well known. Potential aspirants include Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, but his aberrant views on foreign policy make it unlikely he’ll get far. But quietly, steadily Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is building a following.
He slayed the Big Labor beast in surviving a recall and has pushed through education and health-care reforms. This year’s budget includes “ $1 billion in tax relief for Wisconsin families, $322 million in additional state aid for public schools and a $100 million investment in workforce development.” He can also tout his record on job creation (manufacturing jobs, specifically).
The head of a D.C. conservative organization put it to me the other day, “It is hard to make a case against Walker.” Like most successful national Republicans, he balances reform with strong conservative credentials. In doing so, he can govern effectively in a purple state while keeping a strong following nationally.
This week he backed a path to citizenship (although not necessarily the Senate bill itself) and signed an abortion bill requiring and a physician with admitting privileges at nearby hospital. A matter-of-fact written release announcing the signing of this and other legislation read, “This bill improves a woman’s ability to make an informed choice that will protect her physical and mental health now and in the future. Women have a choice as to the ultrasound they receive. Pregnancies that are the result of a sexual assault or incest are excluded from this legislation.”
One for the reform camp (and potential GOP Hispanics) and one for social conservatives. His style is low-key, but he’s shown he can woo the base and those seeking a more expansive GOP.
Whether or not he runs in 2016 (or is picked as a vice president), he’s shown Republicans how to push through a center-right agenda and win elections outside of a deep red bastion. For all that, we can say, well done, Gov. Walker.