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The Insiders: What makes Scott Walker so formidable?

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker (Photo/Morry Gash)

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, who announced on Twitter this morning that he is running for president in 2016 and will make a formal announcement speech tonight in Wisconsin, is a formidable candidate.  The reason Walker has so much potential lies in two words that are often used to describe him: “relatable” and “fighter.”  That combination is sure to resonate with Republican primary voters, who are discouraged with the status quo and want to hear from someone who is real– someone who will stand up for them.  The issue of trustworthiness is going to come up again and again this election cycle, and Governor Walker has positioned himself as someone who is straightforward, honest and effective.

Scott Walker’s record as a governor who gets things done is uncontested.  He won three elections in the last four years, facing huge odds against Democrats who threw the best punches they could muster.  Democrats have expended huge amounts of resources trying to prevent Governor Walker from serving in office.  Governor Walker’s triumph over the Democrats in the 2012 recall election made him a national figure and a hero among Republicans everywhere.  He has seen the kitchen sink up close, and as a result, there is no one running for president today who is a more tested campaign pro.

And, in politics, luck matters. Walker is lucky that he is announcing in close proximity to Hillary Clinton’s rollout of her economic plan. Her claim that she understands middle class life, or that she knows how to implement policies that actually grow the economy are not credible, especially when compared with Governor Walker’s background and the policies he fought to put in place in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker is principled and truly conservative, even clearing the bar with the GOP purists in states like Iowa. But he also has an average, everyday guy type of persona. He doesn’t come across as harsh or mean-spirited. He really does shop at Kohl’s for his family.

He does face some obvious questions about his foreign policy expertise, and his critics are sure to seize on the fact that he did not graduate from Marquette University.  The idea that he is somehow disqualified because he left college to take a paying job a few months before he would have earned his college degree is ridiculous. In fact, if his opponents overdo it, using that argument could backfire on his critics.

Anyway, watch out for Governor Walker. He really is a formidable candidate. And, at a time when the 2016 campaign isn’t particularly flattering for Republicans, his credible presence in the GOP primary field is welcome.