Madison: Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker announced on social media today morning that he’s running for president, tweeting “I’m in.” Walker is a Republican who built a national profile largely due to his clashes with labor unions. He enacted policies weakening their political power and became the first governor in US history to defeat a recall election.
Now, on the eve of his campaign launch, Walker’s task is to remind Republican voters about lesser-known triumphs he says set him apart from the crowded Republican field. Walker cut income and corporate taxes by nearly USD 2 billion, lowered property taxes, legalized the carrying of concealed weapons, made abortions more difficult to obtain, required photo identification when voting and made Wisconsin a right-to-work state.
His budget this year, which plugged a USD 2.2 billion shortfall when he signed it into law Sunday, requires drug screenings for public benefit recipients, freezes tuition at the University of Wisconsin while cutting funding by USD 250 million and removing tenure protections from state law. Such achievements may appeal to conservatives who hold outsized sway in Republican primaries, yet some could create challenges in a general election should Walker ultimately become the party’s nominee.
“Ultimately Walker has to show all these victories and political successes have shown real results,” said Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. The labour dispute helped give him a significant head start in the 2016 money race.
Walker’s three governor’s races left him with a far-reaching donor database of more than 300,000 names. He shattered state fundraising records, collecting USD 83 million for his three Wisconsin elections, much of it coming from outside the state.
He begins his 2016 presidential bid with at least USD 20 million to spread his message, raised by two outside groups not subject to campaign finance donation limits, according to sources with direct knowledge of the fundraising operation.
They spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss private fundraising strategy. Walker talks about how the 2011 union law saved taxpayers USD 3 billion as of late 2014. While it’s true that the state and local governments have saved roughly that amount, the costs have been shifted to the employees who have to pay more for those benefits.