As news of Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential campaign suspension burst across social media, his supporters lamented the campaign’s mistakes and missteps, shook their fists at the Trump juggernaut, and quietly sighed relief that the Midwest’s most influential governor would return home to get back to business.
Meanwhile and paradoxically, his liberal detractors luxuriated in the news. The neophyte chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning, shared to Facebook a news story about the suspension with the minimalistic caption, “Onward.” Her brief commentary was ostensibly a celebration, but the governor’s opponents at home in Wisconsin should pack up the confetti and party hats.
The rejection of Walker on a national stage will be mostly attributed to Donald Trump, a campaign boosted exclusively by national radio talk shows whose dim listeners ravage the red meat they’re throw by cartoonish hosts. Walker’s early, and by all accounts shocking, campaign suspension does not repudiate Act 10 or the socially conservative policies that have shaped his agenda the last five years.
The plan all along, so the narrative goes, is that Walker had planned to resign the governor’s office after the 2016 election, either to move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, take a spot in a cabinet position, or make big bucks on the speaking circuit or on K Street.
That was when he was a hot political commodity.
But now he’s an also-ran, one who needs to keep the “unintimidated” brand polished. He won’t return to Wisconsin admitting defeat. He’s going to focus his political acumen and national donor network right on Wisconsin.
A robust Republican Party in Wisconsin over the next 15 months not only helps to protect the governor’s conservative legacy, but could play a meaningful role nationally. The US Senate race between Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold is already calculated to be one of the closest and most-watched in the country. In the context of an election year, the results of the Senate matchup will indicate how Wisconsin’s electoral votes are allocated in the presidential contest, too. Walker now has tremendous capacity to rally support for that cause.
A common theme on the stump was achieving conservative reforms in a deep blue state. Now without the burdens of a national race, he has the opportunity to once again flex his political muscle. The state legislature has passed conservative reforms and policies even in the absence of Walker’s leadership.
Democrats and liberals blinded by their hatred for Walker and his reforms have their moment to gloat now, but they won’t be able to for long. Walker the warrior is home and he’s not going to stop the fight.