Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor, has now won three hard-fought elections in four years.
The Republican incumbent’s six-point victory over wealthy Democrat Mary Burke in the former blue state will “thrust him into the upper echelon of 2016 Republican presidential contenders,” the Washington Post declared.
Democrat luminaries, including President Obama and Michelle Obama, personally campaigned with and for Burke.
First elected governor in 2010, Scott Walker faced his third election in four years on the job. After enacting the collective bargaining reform law known as Act 10, public sector unions mounted a failed recall election in 2012 against him. Recalls of other Republican state legislators were only temporarily successful, as both houses of the state legislature are back under GOP control. An effort to dislodge a perceived Scott Walker ally from the Wisconsin supreme court also went down to defeat.
The soft-spoken Walker, who was viewed by liberals after the union reforms passed as something along the lines of public enemy No. 1, is the only governor in American history to survive a recall.
You may remember that Wisconsin state senate Democrats abandoned their constitutional work stations in February 2011 and hid out in Illinois to prevent a vote on Act 10 as pro-union protesters descended on the state capitol. The measure was finally voted into law about a month later, and has since overcome numerous legal challenges at the state and federal level.
With dues now voluntary rather than mandatory, public sector union membership in Wisconsin has plummeted.
Whether you agree with his policies or not, he may be an example of the old adage that the most effective leader doesn’t have to speak with the loudest voice.
No friend of Walker’s policies, Slate nonetheless praised Walker’s straightforward strategy and ability to stay on message during the contest with Mary Burke. Slate also suggested that out-of-state liberal politicians and funding, which apparently reminded voters of the recall battle, could have backfired on Burke.
“Walker loyalists said that as money from outside groups and unions poured into the state for Burke and as her campaign came to be associated with its out-of-state surrogates…voters got recall flashbacks… While Walker was repeating the same simple pitch throughout the state, national labor organizations were running ads targeting the governor and Burke was hobnobbing with the president and first lady in the state’s two most liberal cities, Madison and Milwaukee. If Burke bet on this being an anti-incumbent election cycle, Walker bet on its being anti-Washington. And he bet right.”
Walker’s cause may have been aided to some degree when it turned out that Burke, who touted her business background during the campaign, was allegedly fired by her own family while she was in charge of Trek Bicycle’s European operations.
Scott Walker, 47, has been publicly noncommittal about any presidential aspirations, but as the Post noted, “Walker’s success provides a compelling rationale for an expected 2016 White House bid: that he won two elections and fended off a 2012 recall effort in a state that twice voted for Obama.”
Added the New York Times, “Just after Mr. Walker won the recall election, Republicans began mentioning him among a list of possible candidates for president in 2016. Mr. Walker’s success at pushing through a conservative agenda, then surviving a recall challenge in a state that twice favored President Obama gave him a résumé Republicans saw as appealing for a White House run.”
Watch Scott Walker’s victory speech from Tuesday evening after he defeated Mary Burke:
[image credit: WisPolitics.com]