Throughout the 2012 election cycle Republicans have pined for a bold, conservative reformer—a leader courageous enough to make difficult choices and articulate enough to explain them to a skeptical public. The good news is they have such a candidate. The less good news: Scott Walker isn’t running for president. He’s running to hang on to his job as governor of Wisconsin.
Walker is the target of a recall effort funded by national labor unions. Why? Reforms he made to balance the budget have dramatically diminished the influence of public employee unions. If not reversed, these reforms will inspire similar efforts across the country, and the outsized power of public sector unions will finally be reined in.
The election in Wisconsin—which will happen in late spring or summer—could have a profound impact on the 2012 presidential race, with the winning side emerging from the battle organized and energized in one of the most important swing states this November....
In light of the success of Walker’s reforms, complaining about what he said in 2010 seems unlikely to win many votes. So Walker’s opponents want to change the subject. Last week, Mike Tate, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic party, toured the state in an attempt to link Walker more closely to an investigation of some of his former employees. Here again, Democrats have resorted to distorting reality in order to smear Walker.
There are two separate issues. In the first, a woman who worked for Walker when he was Milwaukee County executive was found posting political comments on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website during working hours. She resigned in May 2010.
The second involves two former Walker employees who allegedly stole money from a veterans’ organization that worked with the county on an event held at the Milwaukee County Zoo. John Chisholm, Milwaukee’s district attorney, has been investigating the claims for 20 months. There is no indication Walker knew about the employees’ activities, much less condoned them. Chisholm has said that Walker is not a target of the investigation—which only exists because Walker requested it when he was presented with the facts.
Some Wisconsin Republicans, pointing out that Chisholm is a Democrat and highlighting the steady stream of leaks coming from his office, are growing concerned that the investigation is a political witch hunt, designed to bloody the governor before voters cast their ballots. Walker, for his part, says that he believes Chisholm is an “earnest” prosecutor who will conduct a fair investigation. That’s probably overly generous.
The coming battle for Wisconsin will be a difficult fight for Republicans. Democrats have shown that they are willing to do just about anything to win. Unions are fighting this battle as if their very existence depends on a victory—and it might.