A question that seemed so unimaginable during his 2012 recall campaign.
While he has not officially announced his candidacy for re-election, Gov. Scott Walker appears to be in good standing to win again – for a fourth time in a row. Walker’s poll numbers dipped amid his failed presidential run, but have since slowly climbed up and now stand in the mid-40’s. However, it’s not just his growing poll numbers that have experts in the Badger State believing another gubernatorial victory is his for the taking.
To lose an election, you need someone else to win. With that obvious fact on the table – there appears to be no one wanting to challenge Gov. Walker. Many high profile Democrats have already taken their name out of consideration. Former Green Bay Packers player Mark Tauscher, businessman Mark Bakken, Congressman Ron Kind and former state Sen. Tim Cullen are the latest (of others) who have opted out of a Walker challenge.
The only Democrat who has officially announced is 25-year-old Bob Harlow, a man who ran for Congress in California last year. Not exactly top talent.
Wisconsin is a bona fide purple state with a long history of progressive politics. The voters in the Badger State voted Democrat in every presidential election since 1988 – until last year. As early as 2010, both chambers of the state capitol were controlled by Democrats. Why would it be so hard to find to find a serious Democrat to challenge a governor despised by the liberals?
Perhaps Wisconsin isn’t what it used to be.
The Badger State shocked the country when it broke over two decades of tradition and voted for Donald Trump, a Republican candidate, for president. But if you look closer at the partisan changes in the state, it may not seem so surprising.
Both chambers of the Wisconsin legislature are now GOP controlled. A larger majority of Wisconsin’s House Delegation is Republican. The state was at the epicenter of Hillary Clinton’s “blue wall” collapse amid the night of the 2016 election.
Gov. Scott Walker may have rode a GOP wave into office during the 2010 mid-terms, but he clearly earned his place as the state’s top executive. In the three gubernatorial races he’s run: the 2010 election, the 2012 recall and the 2014 re-election, Walker never took less than 52 percent of the vote.
The 2012 recall that attempted to oust him from power did just the opposite. Walker not only survived the recall attempt, but walked away with a national donor base and recognition from conservatives around the country. It’s this same donor base that’s scaring Democrats from challenging him. Numerous Democratic lawmakers have cited an inability to match Walker’s fundraising prowess as reason for opting out of a challenge. The governor raked in about $35 million in his 2014 campaign and many estimate he could raise as much as $45 million for 2018.
While Gov. Walker continued to win race after race and local Democrats dwindled in the state legislature, Rep. Paul Ryan continued to climb the ladders of power on Capitol Hill. He was idolized on the right during the 2012 election as Mitt Romney’s running mate. In 2015, Ryan became the current speaker of the House – the first Wisconsin congressman to ever do so.
Even more so, the former Wisconsin GOP chairman, Reince Priebus, became the RNC chairman in 2011 and earned a national profile of his own. Getting promoted yet again, he now serves as the White House chief of staff.
The once-dark blue Wisconsin has become the epicenter of Republican politics.
It can be argued that Donald Trump paved his own way to victory in The Badger State by winning over rural voters with his blue-collar appeal. However, there should be no denying the road Walker, Ryan and Priebus paved into transforming the partisan shift of Wisconsin.
This may be why Wisconsin is less friendly to Democrats than times past.
It may also be why Gov. Walker won’t have such a tough time securing a third term.
Campaign Daily Rating: Likely Republican