Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) has led one of the most remarkable changes in any state’s politics in American history.
Wisconsin is the birthplace of Big Labor, which for decades has funded the Democratic Party in that state and nationally.
Walker was elected four years ago promising to reform the state’s Big Labor-friendly labor laws and cut taxes while improving education. He made good on that promise, and the result has been successful. Unemployment shrunk, and Walker has been able to cut taxes while enacting school choice.
School choice is one of the most potent yet under-explored issues in American politics, with the potential to erode and even re-shape the Democratic Party’s coalition. School choice may have powered Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s narrow re-election victory in Florida.
Walker has now beaten back a fierce, Big Labor-funded recall and an election challenge. The left has thrown everything it can at Walker, and he has repeatedly won. Wisconsin can now be classified as a red state, not quite as red as Oklahoma or Texas, but red until Democrats prove otherwise.
Walker is only 47 years old. If he runs in 2016, he presents fellow Republicans and the Democrats a formidable record. To the presumed Democrats — Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren — Walker presents a much younger voice who has hunted in their policy back yard and come out the victor. Against any Republican challengers, Walker can make the case that he can run and win in blue or swing states, and he can get real and lasting reforms done. His record stacks up strongly against red state governors — Walker can say that they have had it easier than he has — and Republican senators, because they lack the executive experience that governors bring to the presidency.
Fair or not, all Walker needs to do to highlight the relative leadership strengths of governors versus senators is point out how terrible former Sen. Barack Obama’s presidency has been.
On Meet the Press Sunday, Walker gave the strongest hint yet that he will run for president in 2016.
Host Chuck Todd asked Walker about 2016 and possibly supporting fellow Wisconsinite Rep. Paul Ryan for president. Ryan was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2012.
“I’d be the president of the Paul Ryan fan club,” Walker told Todd. “But I do think if we’re going to beat Hillary Clinton this next election, we gotta have a message that says Hillary Clinton is all about Washington.
“We offer a fresh approach — any of us, now 31 governors across the country — have the executive experience outside of Washington to provide a much better alternative to the old, tired, top-down approach you see out of Washington, D.C.
“Overall, I believe governors make much better presidents than members of Congress,” Walker said.