Tremont Director In Politico Magazine


How Scott Walker Will Win

Why the Wisconsin governor might be the last Republican standing.

By Alan Greenblatt

July 12, 2015

Plenty of Republicans don't want to vote for Jeb Bush. The same cannot be said about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. That's why this understated and under-known Midwesterner could rise up and beat not just expectations but the entire field. In fact, Walker could plausibly clinch the nomination without losing a single early state. Walker, who is making his candidacy official on Monday, has always combined the populist instincts of talk radio with the policy agenda of a free-market think tank. This is working well for him in Iowa, where he enjoys a regional advantage. 

No such thing. Walker has supported the concept of right to work from his earliest days as a legislator, back in his 20s, and didn't hesitate when a bill reached his desk in March. It was the culmination of a strategy Walker himself once described to a wealthy donor as "divide and conquer" when it comes to labor issues. Walker secured support from some unions back in 2011, even while he was stripping most public employees of their bargaining power. All of this is to say that he's more sophisticated in his approach than his bulldozer image may suggest. "He had a strategy there that a lot of people didn't give him credit for," says Matt Hennessy, a Democratic consultant in Connecticut. "He disarmed some very important constituencies that could have cost him that fight."

As you might expect a Democrat to say, Hennessy believes the stances Walker is taking now could haunt him in the general election. It's one of the key debates in Republican circles—do you have to run too far to the right to win the nomination to be able to win in November? That, however, is a question for another day.

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