27 February 2015

Meet Governor Scott Walker (possibly the next US President)


From outside the US it is easy to see the 2016 presidential election purely in terms of a dynastic clash between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. Will Hillary overcome the concerns that she wants to win but cannot figure out what she wants to do with the office other than be President? Can Bill behave himself during the campaign? Is the likeable Jeb too tainted by association with his brother to win the Republican nomination even though the former Governor of Florida is raising a lot of money? Can Jeb’s advisors convince him to invest in some decent suits and ties that don’t look as though they were bought 10 years ago at Walmart?

While it is an entertaining potential clash, the 2016 race is about so much more than Clinton v. Bush series 3, as Richard Epstein explained here yesterday. Others will run for the Republican and Democrat nominations and there is plenty of scope for someone new to emerge and win.

That was what I kept hearing in New York and Washington, where I spent most of last week visiting think tanks and talking to writers and supporters of CapX.

The name I kept hearing, again and again, from Republicans, was that of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin. This 47 year-old Reaganite is a fascinating potential candidate who in office has fought, and won, difficult battles with the unions. He even saw off a recall ballot in 2012.

Here he is speaking yesterday at CPAC, the conservative gathering held in Washington, where he drew thundering applause:

Once he got beyond the boilerplate, standard issue material that sounds as though it was designed to appeal to a CPAC audience, he spent time emphasising his education and welfare reforms, aspiration and delivering value for money for taxpayers, all in a confident and optimistic manner. That he has low recognition from most voters outside Wisconsin may not be the disadvantage his critics claim, if he can present himself as the challenger taking on bigger names and tired elites mistrusted by voters.

Of course, in the battle for the nomination, rising stars can fall just as surely as big name frontrunners can be beaten by charismatic new contenders. If he runs he may be tested to destruction and a lot can go wrong for a candidate if he is unprepared for life on the national stage. Still, even this early in the cycle it is worth looking out for Scott Walker.

Iain Martin is Editor of CapX.