Candidate Profile: Scott Walker (R)

  • Full Name: Scott Kevin Walker
  • Occupation: Governor of Wisconsin
  • Education: Marquette University (Did Not Graduate)
  • Age: 47
  • Party: Republican
  • Notable Endorsements: David H. Koch, Charles Koch, Scott Baio

The last major prospective candidate for the 2016 Presidential Race finally declared earlier Monday, as Scott Walker, current Governor of Wisconsin and conservative darling, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President.

Walker catapulted into the public spotlight during his first term as Governor as a result of the passing of the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” which stripped many public sector employees, from construction workers to University of Wisconsin professors, of their rights for collective bargaining over pensions and health insurance, in an effort to curb the budget deficit faced by the state government.

Wisconsin protest
Protests in Madison – CNN

What resulted was an uproar of protests from labor activists and academia, with numbers as high as 100,000 in Madison. Protestors received support from national and international figures, with President Obama noting that the proposal “seems more like an assault on unions,” and the Polish trade-union, Solidarity, that lead the democratic push that helped end the rule of the Soviet Union. Walker’s measures were applauded by Tea Party activists like Sarah Palin and conservative energy moguls and donors, David H. Koch and Charles Koch, as a better alternative for budget cuts than laying off employees.

David H. Koch, donor to many Tea Party activist groups/politicians, with net worth of $41.2 billion
David H. Koch, donor to many Tea Party activist groups/politicians, with net worth of $41.2 billion – Image Credit to Henry Leutwyler

Walker generated more controversy after Ian Murphy, an editor and reporter for The Beast, prank-called Walker, impersonating David Koch, who was a corporate backer of the Governor, and surprisingly, Walker’s office took the call. In the call, Walker discussed with “David Koch” that he had considered placing agents within the protests to potentially turn the protests chaotic (and possibly violent) to paint the labor activists in a negative picture.

Following the protests, over one million signatures were collected to recall Governor Walker (basically meaning that the state would have another election for Governor). Partly in thanks to large donations to Walker’s campaign (many of whom came from out-of-state), Walker became the first Governor to win a recall election, defeating the Democratic candidate by a large margin.

As a result, Walker ascended as a conservative champion to many Republicans, as a young, successful Governor who was able to win political fights without compromising on his principles, even in a traditionally “blue” state like Wisconsin, which has become a cornerstone for his campaign. In his announcement video, Walker argued that Republicans can’t win by compromising on their beliefs (likely a dig at Mitt Romney from the 2012 election, who many Republicans believed wasn’t “conservative” enough).

In his campaign announcement speech, Walker stayed on a patriotic tone, with his first sentence being, “I love America,” just in case you weren’t totally sure. The Governor echoed the “American Dream,” stating, “here, the opportunity is equal for all, but the outcome is up to each and every one of us.”

If he loves America, why is only the "e" an American Flag?
If he really loves America, why is only the “e” an American Flag? – Image Credit Scott Walker, Inc.

Walker has quickly emerged as a more conservative alternative to Jeb Bush and has garnered massive support. He has consistently polled in the Top 5,if not Top 3 of Republican candidates, and is virtually guaranteed to be one of the heavyweights in the 2016 Republican Primaries.

Economy & Taxes

Walker is in favor of privatizing some government programs to reduce the national debt, which he believes is one of the greatest threats facing the nation.

In regards to taxes, Walker is in favor of cutting corporate and income tax rates, and has even considered abolishing all income taxes.

Walker campaigning at a Harley-Davidson dealer - Image Credit to David Becker/Reuters
Walker campaigning at a Harley-Davidson dealer – Image Credit to David Becker/Reuters

Walker is in support of “right to work” legislation and wants to limit union organizing. He wants to drastically reduce governmental benefit programs such as welfare and food stamps, and has proposed to subject all food stamp recipients to drug tests.

The Governor has described the minimum wage as a “lame idea,” preferring increases to job training.

He is a supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Environment

Walker has not stated whether or not he believes that climate change is real or man-made, but signed a pledge refusing to allow any tax increases or fees to combat climate change.

He plans to stop EPA emissions regulation.

In his campaign kick-off, Walker stated that he would sign into law the Keystone Pipeline XL bill if elected President, and supports an “all-of-the-above” energy policy, arguing that all the natural resources present in America can fuel an economic recovery.

Foreign Policy

Walker believes that he can provide the strong leadership needed to improve America’s standing as a superpower, stating, “the world needs to know that there is no better friend and no worse enemy than the United States of America.”

Walker claimed that he would reject any deal with Iran regarding nuclear talks, in favor of more harsh economic sanctions. He would end the latest deal signed by President Obama regarding Iran.

He is in favor of increasing ties with Israel, proclaiming that in a Walker presidency, there would be “no daylight” between the U.S. and Israel.

Walker meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu - Image Credit to Matt Brooks
Walker meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu – Image Credit to Matt Brooks

Walker wants to implant large economic sanctions on Russia and has stated he will be tough on Putin. He is in favor of sending military aid to the Ukraine.

The Governor believes that we must “go beyond excessive air strikes,” in regards to the threat of ISIS, and will “take the fight to them.” He has considered the possibility of sending U.S. ground forces to the Middle East to combat ISIS.

Walker generated controversy with his speech at CPAC 2015, stating in regards to the threat of ISIS, “if I can take on 100,000 protestors (reference to 2011 Madison protests), I can do the same across the world.” In by comparing the labor protestors (which consisted of firemen, police officers, and teachers), to Islamic radical fighters, Walker received criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, and later apologized for his remarks.

Immigration

Walker believes that America needs to secure its borders with Mexico, arguing it is the nation’s top priority.

Walker’s views on immigration have changed. In 2013, he was in favor of providing a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but recently has opposed any attempts for amnesty for undocumented immigrants.

He admitted to Fox News’ Chris Wallace, that he had changed his views on immigration.

Healthcare

Walker is in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, believing that the federal government has too much say in the healthcare of its citizens.

Same-Sex Marriage

Walker believes in traditional marriage, “between one man and one woman,” and opposes same-sex marriage. He called the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, “a grave mistake,” and has considered introducing a constitutional amendment allowing states to define marriage.

Walker had supported constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage as Governor.

Abortion

Walker is “pro-life,” and opposes abortions, including in cases of rape or incest.

Education

As Governor, he cut statewide K-12 education funding by $1.2 billion and has recently proposed cutting the University of Wisconsin’s funding by 13%.

Walker is against the Common Core and is in favor of providing public funding for private school vouchers.

Final Verdict

Walker certainly has been on tone for campaigning to the “right” of Jeb Bush and has the potential to do major damage. As stated previously, Walker has been polling very high in national polls for the Republican race and can bring in massive donations to challenge for the nomination fiscally. The Koch brothers have stated that they are willing to spend around $900 million in the 2016 race, and as Walker has had previous ties to the Koch brothers, he has a tremendous chance to receive the entirety of the donations. This would be a game-changer for the Walker campaign as both the Obama and Romney campaigns only raised a little over $1 billion in the entire 2012 election from all donations and Walker could virtually match that in one donation. Walker also must separate himself from other conservative challengers to Bush, like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and even Donald Trump to unite more right-wing Republicans.

800px-Governor_Scott_Walker
Scott Walker, Modern-Day Goldwater?
Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater, lost 1964 election for being too extremist

Even with massive donations, Walker may still have large difficulties on the campaign trail. Walker is not considered as one of the most charismatic politicians and gaffes like the protestors and ISIS comment have the potential to hinder him severely. Also, even if Walker is able to capture the Republican nomination by pushing hard to the right on issues, it may very well spell doom in the general election. Most of the nation doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Walker in regards to social issues and many may view him as an extremist. History has shown that ultra-partisan candidates tend to fail miserably come Election Day. The last Republican nominee that argued far too right on the political spectrum was Barry Goldwater, who lost the 1964 Presidential Election to Lyndon B. Johnson in a landslide, only carrying six states and losing the electoral college, 486-52. If Walker does receive the Republican nomination, and he has a great chance of doing so, he will have to moderate his views if he wants to be elected in the general election.

Image Credit to New York Times/Gage Skidmore/Trikosko, Marion S.

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