My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:
In perhaps the most anticipated, but least surprising, announcement in Wisconsin politics, Gov. Scott Walker told fellow Republicans at the state Republican convention in Wisconsin Dells he is ready to serve a third term as governor.
Although he has said that, he will withhold an official announcement until after the budget is passed, there is little doubt that Walker will ask the voters to elect him as their governor for the fourth time.
One could not help but contrast Walker’s 2017 Wisconsin GOP convention speech to the one he made to the same audience last year. By the time the Wisconsin Republicans convened in 2016, Walker’s presidential campaign had been dead for nearly eight months, but Walker was clearly in no mood to talk about the presidential campaign or his future. In a speech that did not mention the Republican presidential nominee once, Walker focused on getting Republicans to focus on re-electing Sen. Ron Johnson.
The focus and mood were very different this year. Walker delivered a rousing highlight reel of his record as governor and enjoined the Republican stalwarts in the audience to rally to his campaign. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, Walker will have no problem turning out his base of supporters again. And while many conservatives became frustrated with Walker when he uncharacteristically flirted with nonconservative positions during his run for president, his record in less than seven years as governor is truly unmatched in advancing conservative principles and issues. Of course, Walker had the support of a Republican Legislature for much of his tenure, but those Republicans have been increasingly conservative thanks in large part to Walker’s leadership.
Most people place Act 10 at the top of the list of Walker’s achievements. Act 10 was a reorientation of the government paradigm that continues to pay dividends to Wisconsin’s citizens. It deserves to sit atop the list, but that list, taken in its totality, dwarfs Act 10.
Since Walker assumed office, Wisconsin has passed concealed carry legislation, required voters to present a picture identification, made Wisconsin a right-to-work state, expanded school choice,
frozen tuition at Wisconsin’s public universities and much, much more. Walker and the Republican Legislature also funded the state’s rainy day fund, cut billions of dollars in taxes and turned Wisconsin into a state that repeatedly runs surpluses instead of the perpetual deficits we saw under Gov. Jim Doyle.
The results speak for themselves. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since President Bill Clinton was in the White House. At the same time, Wisconsin has one of the highest percentage of people in the workforce. And the average annual wage for private sector workers is up more than 11 percent since Walker was elected. Wisconsin is working.
It is small wonder why Walker would want to run for a third term. Most governors would be proud to run on one or two of Walker’s achievements. No governor in America can run on such a chockfull record of success.
The Democrats appear to agree. Walker’s impressive record and bursting campaign coffers has already scared away most serious contenders. The Democrats are scraping the edges of their party and the private sector for anyone willing to charge the Walker windmill and finding few takers. The Democrats will eventually find someone to run and will attempt to sell them to the voters as the second coming of FDR, but Walker will be exceptionally formidable even in a year when national trends point to Democratic wins.
The next gubernatorial election is still 18 months away, but it is difficult to envision Walker not sticking around as governor well into the next decade.