The Washington Post

Scott Walker’s cure for gridlock? Hand Republicans the keys.

FILE - In this June 28, 2013 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)
FILE - In this June 28, 2013 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks in his Capitol office in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Scott Bauer, File)

The gridlock that has seized Washington has a solution, according to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R). It's pretty simple: Hand Republicans the keys to the car.

That's the argument Walker laid out Friday morning at a breakfast in Washington sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. And if Walker runs for president in 2016, it's a safe bet that he will double down on that theme.

Indeed, as one reporter noted in a question to Walker, it's easy for governors to bash the logjam in the nation's capital as they are fond of doing, since after all, most states -- including Walker's -- are under the control of a governor and state legislative majority of the same party. Walker's pitch is to make Washington look more like Wisconsin, which has been controlled by Republicans since 2010.

"What we learned in Wisconsin and what many of the other battleground states -- particularly in the Midwest -- learned in the 2010 election is if you want to get big bold reform done, if you want to get positive reform done for your state, you need a team to help you do that," he said.

Walker got his "team" when Wisconsin voters handed Republicans control of the state House and Senate in the 2010 election, in addition to electing him. The governor swiftly moved to enact legislation to curb collective bargaining for most public employees. The law made Walker a champion of the right and a villain of the left. It forced him into a recall election -- but he notably won by a wider margin than in 2010.

Walker says he is eyeing the 2014 election, with great interest, not only because he faces a reelection contest. He views it as a real opportunity for Republicans to win back the Senate in addition to keeping their House majority. And he thinks the idea of divided government as a necessary safeguard against one party abusing its power is overrated, he said. (It's an idea that Americans seem to increasingly agree with.)

Here's why it matters: Several governors -- Walker included -- are going to take a close look at running for president in 2016. The other two most prominent ones who come to mind are Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. If all three run, they are all going to bash Washington gridlock. In fact, they've already been doing it.

The key question is this: How do these governors distinguish themselves from each other? Christie comes from a state with a Democratic legislature and can make the case that he knows how to work with the opposition and win over their party's voters. Walker can't, at least not to anywhere near the same extent. And as his Friday comments reveal, he probably isn't going to try, should he make a national run. Instead, he will point to the sweeping policy accomplishments under his watch, and let voters decide whether or not they like them.

The 2016 lanes are being filled well ahead of 2016, as we have noted in this space. And Walker is looking like the candidate who will press voters to double down on the GOP philosophy based on concrete policy it has yielded in the states, not what it's blocked in Washington.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Sean Sullivan · November 22, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.