While anonymous chatter has placed Scott Walker’s campaign manager’s head squarely on the chopping block, Rick Wiley himself says the rumors aren’t true. “I’m not going anywhere,” Wiley told the Cap Times on Thursday. “The vicious rumor cycle has begun. Reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.”
Wiley’s name was floated as the fall guy for the Wisconsin governor’s shaky debate performance and tanking poll numbers in a Washington Post article published Thursday morning. And several anonymous sources suggested as much to the Cap Times, though none directly connected with the campaign. “There is a substantial amount of chatter that he needs to go,” an anonymous Walker fundraiser told the Washington Post. Donors told the Post there are fears Wiley “expanded the staff too quickly and has failed to calibrate spending during the summer fundraising season.”
And who is Rick Wiley?
Rick Wiley is a Republican political strategist who is currently serving as the campaign manager of Scott Walker’s 2016 campaign. He has previously worked on two other presidential campaigns, George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential re-election and Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid. He also worked as the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party and political director of the Republican National Committee (RNC). He then moved to Mercury Public Affairs, a campaign consulting firm.
Now that is some resume: a near-loss in 2004 to a bona fide idiot who cut his political teeth as an anti-American “anti-war” activist and Giuliani’s pffft 2008 campaign in what should have been a national-security election. If you want to know what is wrong with American politics, it’s Wiley and people like him, the political equivalent of mediocre baseball managers who are hired to be fired, never manage to win much of anything, and yet are hired again and again and again. Which brings us to this breaking news:
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has concluded he no longer has a path to the Republican presidential nomination and plans to drop out of the 2016 campaign, according to three Republicans familiar with his decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Mr. Walker called a news conference in Madison at 6 p.m. Eastern time.
“The short answer is money,” said a supporter of Mr. Walker’s who was briefed on the decision. “He’s made a decision not to limp into Iowa.” The supporter said Mr. Walker’s fund-raising had dried up after his decline in the polls and that campaign officials did not feel they could risk going into debt with the race so uncertain. The governor, who was scheduled to be in New York and Washington this week, partly to raise money, had built up an expansive staff, bringing on aides and consultants detailed to everything from Christian conservative outreach to Super Tuesday states. But his fund-raising did not keep pace with the money needed to sustain such an infrastructure.
Mr. Walker’s intended withdrawal is a humiliating climb down for a Republican governor once seen as all but politically invincible. He started the year at the top of the polls but has seen his position gradually deteriorate, amid the rise of Donald J. Trump’s populist campaign and repeated missteps by Mr. Walker himself. In the most recent CNN survey, Mr. Walker drew support nationally from less than one-half of one percent of Republican primary voters. He faced growing pressure to shake up his campaign staff, a step he was loath to take, according to Republicans briefed on his deliberations.
Stunning, really — how do you take a man with a track record like Walker’s and turn him from a Democratic dragon-slayer and scourge of the racket known as “public employee” unions into an inoffensive proprietor of a campaign-gear tchotchke shop? But that’s the whole point of kampaign konsultancy, to sandpaper away a candidate’s actual accomplishments and turn him or her into the spitting image of… Jeb! Bush: the least-offensive simulacrum of a politician possible.
Until the konsultant klass goes the way of the GOP establishment, there is no hope that a candidate not named Donald Trump will be able to break the poll-tested smog of conventional wisdom.