(Disclaimer from Elementary Politics Staff. These articles were compiled in April. There has not been a single debate. We fully admit that it is too early for any rational person to settle on any one candidate. A dark horse that we now think has no chance may rise, someone who looks great may find their inner Todd Akin and blow it. The most we can do is look at the limited information we have at present and look for glaring red flags on which to completely dismiss a candidate at this early stage. But at this point no clear endorsement is being made by Elementary Politics…although we do believe several of them have some glaring red flags).
Even early in the election cycle Scott Walker is appearing to be the candidate to beat. He is in first or second in all of the polls despite not having announced yet.
Walker is probably best known for his economic policies in Wisconsin. During Walker’s governorship of Wisconsin the state has gone from a 9.2% unemployment rate a 5.2% unemployment. He has managed this while also cutting taxes for families and businesses. The latest tax cut to a tune of $541 million. Politifact rated Walker’s claim that he has cut around $2 billion in taxes since he took office in 2011 as true.
This has led to a $283 million short fall that is going to cause some problems in the short term.
He’s also well known for his “take no prisoners” attitude when it comes to labor unions. He has pushed for Wisconsin to become a “right to work” state, which proof successful when he he signed the right to work bill in March of 2015.
Foreign policy is Walker’s weak point. He has yet to be tested on the issue in a real life situation. At CPAC in 2015 Walker spoke about how he had stood up to the unions and that showed he could take on ISIS. His point was wildly misinterpreted by liberals, but to most who heard it the message that Walker was not going to back down from a fight was clear.
At the same conference he stated that we needed to take the fight abroad to prevent ISIS from launching attacks on American soil and in January, after the terrorist attacks in France, he spoke powerfully, calling the terrorists “cowards…[who] are afraid of freedom”.
While we have yet to see Walker actually take on foreign policy, his history standing up to the unions and his statements up to this point seem to indicate a more neo-conservative take on foreign policy that favors military strength and proactive involvement in international situations by America–whether he understands the need to help nations rebuild and achieve stability has yet to be seen.
On immigration Walker’s spokewoman, Kirst Kukowski, said this about his stance “He’s for border security first, enforce the laws on the books, fix legal immigration system with national interest in mind and then deal with those here”. Which is a pragmatic view that is probably the best to operate under at this point in a campaign. Despite some accusations that he has been weak on immigration, supporting amnesty, he seems to have held much the same view over time in different interviews.
Walker was also one of the six governors who wrote a letter to President Obama in July of 2014 to express dismay over the influx of children illegally crossing the border into the United States from Mexico. The letter noted that allowing the children to stay would “send a message that will encourage a much larger movement towards our southern border.”
Abortion: Walker’s legislative views on abortion are more easy to recognize. Between 1993 and 2002 he voted the “right to life” position on nearly every vote that came up on the issue according to Wisconsin Right To Life. This including acts like The Fetal Homicide Act, legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions, and legislation to prohibit state tax dollars going to subsidizing abortions.
His record on this issue seems strongly in the pro-life camp.
Walker also, in his time in the State Legislature, pushed a bill that prevented pharmacists from being disciplined for refusing to provide contraceptive prescriptions. While a limited incident it does suggest that Walker may put social issues ahead of economic issues.
Gay marriage: Walker has said that he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, but mostly he refuses to talk about gay marriage. When asked questions on the topic in a press conference in 2014 he calmly refused to discuss it and several months later when asked similar questions, he redirected the line of question to jobs and economic issues.
He did defend Wisconsin’s marriage amendment in court, but since that court case was lost by the state of Wisconsin his administration announced that they would recognize gay marriages going back all the way to June of 2014. He also was quoted as saying that the fight is “over in Wisconsin” and that they would uphold the decision of the court.
In March of 2013 he did give more details during a Meet the Press interview with David Gregory, where he stated that gay marriage is more of a generational issue and that he preferred to focus on economic issues.
Drug legalization: The issue of drug legalization has not been one that Walker has had much to do with. However, in 2014 when legislation (LRB 3671) was put forward by Rep. Sargent to legalize the medical and recreational use of marijuana, Walker expressed a view that it was not the right time for the discussion: “It may be something that resonates in the future, but I just don’t see any movement for it right now.”
Walker’s views on the issue are neither obviously pro or anti legalization on the issue of marijuana.
This is obviously one of Walker’s strongest recommendations. His experience from 2011 until now as the governor of Wisconsin has provided him with years of executive experience in the political field. He’s held his position through 2 elections, plus a recall election, and accomplished many of his stated tasks, such as making Wisconsin a Right to Work state, despite push back from those hostile to his goals.
He also served as the Milwaukee County Executive, winning elections for the position in 2002, 2004, and 2008. Scott Walker wrote in his book that “[d]uring my eight years as county executive, we cut the number of county workers by 20 percent, and turned a $3.5 million county deficit into a surplus”.
In the private sector he had a full-time position at the American Red Cross for 4 years in the early 90s that focussed on Marketing and Fundraising.
As shown by his record it’s clear that Governor Walker has great strength of character and a strong backbone when faced with challenges. He’s come out victorious in the battles he’s had as a legislator and governor in Wisconsin. In fact he hasn’t lost an election since his first run in 1990, where he won the Republican nomination but lost to the incumbent Democrat.
Walker also shows a rare intent to walk the walk as well as talk the talk when it comes to reducing the size and spending of government. While he was Milwaukee County Executive he gave back between $10,000 and $60,000 a year on his salary. He did this because it allowed him to champion pay and budget cuts ethically.
Competent people: Walker has already begun to hire competent advisors for domestic and foreign policy.
Mike Gallagher, a former Marine Corps captain with a P.hD. from Georgetown in International Relations. He is also a staffer on the Foreign Relations Committee where he focuses on the Middle East, North Africa and Counter-terrorism. This is a smart choice for advising Walker given our current foreign policy situation.
He has also chosen Kristin Jackson as his domestic policy advisor. Jackson is a former legislative assistant who worked immigration, agriculture, drugs, trade, and foreign affairs. Since one of the main issues in the 2016 elections will be the topic of immigration her knowledge of that issue and her work with various other groups that has focused on the United States and it’s nearest neighbors will be a great benefit to Walker’s campaign.
Both immigration and foreign policy are two areas in which Walker is known to be less prepared than some of the other candidates. The fact that Walker seems to have acknowledged that gap in his knowledge and recruited people who will be able to get him up to speed indicates that he is quite capable of choosing capable advisors.
What are the biggest problems with their taking office?: With the current state of America’s relationship with the rest of the world, both allies and enemies, it might be a gamble to choose someone so green on the topic of foreign policy. Then again it wouldn’t be the first time a governor with little foreign policy experience unexpectedly turned our country’s problem with Iran around.
Now, to be fair, there are some concerns with Walker. None of them particularly big, but we have been very harsh to some of the other candidates (they had it coming) and Walker deserves to have his dirty laundry aired as well.
First is the fact that there are accusations of Walker being a micromanager. Now in his governorship there has been nothing that would demonstrate this however during his time as a State Represenative he objected to the hiring of a prison chaplain on the grounds that the candidate was a Wiccan. Religious issues aside (and the fact that candidate in question was later charged with numerous crimes), this does seems pointlessly micromanaging for a State Representative. However, since then all that can be pointed to is accusations of micromanaging by his opponents without being able to point to specifics.
And there are still pending investigations into his campaign finance and management…but these do smack more of political hit jobs than substantive claims. Still Walker is pretty much the only candidate who may be under investigation over the next year or so, and to just ignore that would be dishonest.
Finally, as with most of the candidates he is disturbingly vague at this point. As we have said, that is to be expected at this early point in the election, but a final assessment of his ideas can’t be made until he gives us some details to sink our teeth into.