Opinion

Battle-tested Scott Walker ‘most underrated candidate’ of GOP’s 2016 field

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is steadily raising his profile among potential Republican contenders for the 2016 presidential race, and he’s getting a boost from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s recent media problems.

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That’s the gist of a Politico report Wednesday that cited GOP strategists, former Bush administration officials and big-name Republicans as saying the party’s emphasis on state-based powers gives a leg up to governors in contention for national leadership of the party.

And Walker’s success so far, getting elected as a conservative in a traditionally Democrat state, winning bitter, nationally publicized battles with his state’s public employees unions and producing a state budget with a $1 billion surplus is getting serious attention outside the Badger State, Politico reported.

“I’ve heard of a lot of interest in Walker,” Republican strategist Charlie Black, chief adviser to Sen. John McCain in McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, told Politico, summing up the attention the Wisconsin governor is generating.

Mark McCkinnon, aveteran media campaign consultant, told BizPac Review in an email that Walker’s star is just starting to rise.

“Scott Walker is the most underrated candidate in the field. He checks almost every box for what conservatives are looking for,” McKinnon wrote.  “He will almost certainly win Iowa. Then people will stop saying Scott who?”

And it’s not just inside the Beltway.

During a Jan. 26 broadcast, Rush Limbaugh gave Walker a priceless boost when he told his millions of listeners about the “political earthquake” Walker had engineered by taming the state’s rapacious public unions.

The Wall Street Journal has also been eyeing Walker, keeping a particular eye what appear to be early efforts to derail Walker through a special prosecutor’s investigation of potential campaign fundraising violations. In November, a Journal editorial likened the probe to the way the IRS targeted conservative groups in the years leading up to President Obama’s 2012 re-election.

Walker, meanwhile, is doing his part to keep his name in the news, publishing the combatitively titled memoir in the fall, “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge,” and  paying high-profile visits to Iowa and New Hampshire while courting big-money supporters.

He’s doing it all as a conservative Republican who won not only the governor’s race in 2010, but won a 2012 recall election by an even greater margin than the first victory. And he’s doing it in the face of Democratic opposition in the legal system and electoral politics.

In short, as the Politico attention testifies, he’s becoming more and more someone to watch in the GOP field.

Walker is battling for re-election against his state’s Democrat power structure and its candidate, businesswoman Mary Burke.

If he wins, Politico notes, he hasn’t committed to serving the full four-year term.

He’s apparently got other ideas.

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