Many of Gov. Walker’s most ardent supporters are up in arms over his decision to nix the Kenosha casino project that would have created thousands of jobs for an area sorely needing them. Many of his supporters feel that the decision was not based on what is best for Wisconsin, but rather what will serve his political ambitions.
To be fair, Walker has stated from the beginning that he would only approve the project if all the tribes of Wisconsin approved it, and if it ended in zero net gain in the amount of gambling being conducted in the state, so in making this decision, the governor held true to his word.
The problem is not necessarily with the decision – it is more a problem of perception.
The now infamous open letter to Walker from Iowa conservatives couldn’t have come at a worse time for him. The timing of his decision coupled with his scheduled speech in Iowa wreaks of political expediency. Many people who invested time, money, and effort into Walker’s elections feel like a letter from people in another state caused the governor to act against their best interests.
We all know of the governor’s achievements. Taxes are down, as is unemployment. Business leaders overwhelmingly feel that the state is heading the right direction. Walker has put to rest a lot of the local spending corruption with Act 10, and his UW system tuition freeze is certainly a step in the right direction towards creating ways to save money on campuses all over Wisconsin. Wisconsin is simply in a better position now than before he took office, and no conservative can deny that.
However, ever since the presidential overtures began, we have seen a different side of Walker. The softer Walker might play well in Iowa, but at what cost to his base in Wisconsin?
The fact is that almost all of the people upset with him today, would vote to re-elect him as governor again. The question is whether or not they will do all those other things a politician relies on to actually win. The door-door campaign literature deliveries, phone calls, rallies, and yes – the checks – will all be affected by a less motivated base.
Walker’s apparent all-in approach to running for president could lead to his undoing. It is very odd that a man so calculating would be willing to take this approach. As of today, he is considered the top dark horse to win the GOP nomination. While that is not the worst place to be, the fact is that if he is unsuccessful, he could very easily lose his governorship in 2018, which would almost certainly put his political career to rest.
What conservatives need to do now is remind Walker of this very fact. Write letters, send e-mails, do whatever they can to communicate to the governor that he is losing them. No need to be disrespectful, just a reminder of who put him in the position he is in to begin with.
The casino issue is over but there are other important issues to which we need to hold Walker accountable. Common Core, School Choice, and Right to Work are 3 major issues that Walker seems to be retreating on to avoid conflict. The problem is that his attempt to play the middle does not help Wisconsin and if history holds true, it won’t help him with his presidential bid either.
It would be unfair for anybody to ask Walker not to chase his ambitions, but it is certainly fair to ask him to chase them by continuing to show the country how well he can run a state and not by appeasing people outside of it. Other sitting governors have successfully done this before, is Walker up to the challenge?