Scott Walker Enters Presidential Race

By John Celock

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Monday became the fifteenth Republican to enter the race for the White House.

The nation’s first governor to beat back a recall challenge, Walker rose to national stardom among conservatives – and became vilified by progressives – with a series of laws rolling back collective bargaining rules in 2011. Walker seems intent on making his history in Madison a forefront of his presidential campaign.

“Wisconsin didn’t nibble around the edges,” Walker said in an announcement video. “We enacted big bold reforms and took power out of the hands of the special interests and put it in the hands of the hardworking taxpayers.”

Walker is set to kick off his campaign with a rally in Waukesha, Wis. Monday evening.

Walker, the second term governor of the Badger State, survived a recall campaign in 2012. The campaign was pushed by unions and progressives nationally based on the 2011 anti-union laws that Walker and the GOP state Legislature had passed. The gubernatorial recall campaign came months after a successful recall effort against several Republican state senators, a move that flipped control of the state Senate to the Democrats for the remainder of 2012. The Senate majority change occurred while the Legislature was in recess for the year.

Walker was the third governor in American history to face a recall election and the fourth overall to have a recall election qualify for the ballot. Former Arizona Gov. Evan Meacham (R) was impeached and removed from office in 1988 before the recall election occurred. Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Bartlett 53 percent to 46 percent to win the recall and retain the governorship. Walker’s running mate, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), also won the recall election.

Walker, who was Milwaukee County executive and a state legislator before becoming governor, has been known for his strong anti-union views and fiscal conservative nature in public service. At the same time he has faced scrutiny based on campaign finance practices employed by his staff during the recall election and during his time in county government.

Walker enters the presidential race as a frontrunner in Iowa and among the top candidates nationally. He joins New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as state chief executives seeking the GOP nomination. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is expected to join the GOP field soon. In addition, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former New York Gov. George Pataki are seeking the GOP nomination.

If elected, Walker would be the first president without a college degree since Harry Truman left the White House in 1953.

Walker’s announcement was greeted with opposition from his long time foes in organized labor.

“Scott Walker is a national disgrace,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Monday.

Walker took aim at his opponents but not by name in his announcement video, saying that others in the field “have won elections but have not taken on the big fights.” He indicated that he would govern nationally as he has in Wisconsin.

“America needs new fresh leadership,” he said. “Big, bold ideas from outside of Washington to get things done.”