With the three establishment-favored Governors (Jeb, Christie, Romney) having already all but declared, the time has come for other contenders to telegraph their intentions or face being left behind in the fundraising/operations cycle. One of my two favorite candidates for 2016 has always been Scott Walker, but the looming question has always been whether Walker would run at all given that a campaign would interfere fairly severely with the remainder of his second term. However, in a recent speech to the RNC, Walker seems to be attempting to remove the doubts about whether he will run:
In a dinner speech to the Republican National Committee, Walker touted his record in Wisconsin and that of other Republican governors around the country as the GOP’s model for the 2016 presidential campaign. And just 24 hours before Mitt Romney, the party’s 2012 nominee, was due in San Diego to make his first public remarks since declaring his serious interest in a 2016 run, Walker argued that Republicans need “a new, fresh leader.”
“If we’re going to be up against particularly Hillary Clinton, we need to offer a new, fresh approach,” he said.
As Walker has traveled Wisconsin, he said, he repeatedly has heard how much people dislike and distrust Washington. In that context, he described Clinton, a likely presidential candidate and overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination, as “a big loser.”
Walker’s deficits at this point are well known. He is far from the most charismatic candidate in the field and he has developed a reputation as someone who does not delegate well, which could present a major problem in the context of a Presidential campaign. However, Walker brings a tremendous amount to like to the table as well, having essentially won three elections in a blue/purple state, to accompany an impressive and highly publicized record of hard-won reform and economic success.
His candidacy in many ways mirrors that of Tim Pawlenty’s in 2012, who also ran as a Midwestern pragmatist with a successful record, but who bowed out of the race before the first contest because his vanilla personality doomed him on the trail and with fundraisers. In retrospect, however, as the GOP primary electorate pinballed between one increasingly laughable alternative to Mitt Romney after another, culminating in the Santorum-as-frontrunner farce, Pawlenty may well have taken the nomination or at least made serious noise had he stayed in the race. Presumably, Walker watched all this unfold and understands that an opportunity to squeak under the wire may yet exist for a candidate who runs on the throne of liberal skulls that he has collected rather than on the ability to took compelling on television.
Whatever else may yet happen in the 2016 race, the Republican field is already looking better than it did in 2012, and Walker’s probable entry makes it look even better still.